Finding south using the Southern Cross – an essential skill

Southern Cross - finding south

Finding south using the Southern Cross, drawing Nick Lomb

Lesley asks how do you find north using the Southern Cross? Well, you find south as the Cross is in the southern sky and then it is trivial to find north as it is exactly in the opposite direction to south.

How do you find south? The first step is to identify the Southern Cross – it is a compact group of bright stars close together in the sky with the two Pointer stars always pointing to them from nearby. Then extend the main axis of the Cross from and in the direction of its brightest star by four and a half times its length. You have now reached the South Celestial Pole – the point about which the Cross and all stars turn in the sky. From the Pole drop a line straight down to the horizon – that is south.

It is worth practicing this from your backyard as such knowledge will be most helpful if you are ever lost in the bush!

52 responses to “Finding south using the Southern Cross – an essential skill

  • Sigma octantis is the Southern pole star. Difficult to see naked eye Mostly people use the Southern cross it being more visible .

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