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A look at southern stars

Time lapse of the southern stars circling the south celestial pole. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES



Kiwis all claim to own our Southern Cross in spite of the Aussies, South Africans and southern South Americans having just as good a view of it.

But we must learn to share (haha).

But have you watched our beloved cross over a number of hours?

I don’t mean with your neck craned constantly up in the sky, but just going out looking a couple of hours apart.

It is fascinating because it really demonstrates the rotation of this great globe of ours.

It also gives a clue as to where our celestial pole is in the sky.

Northern hemisphere folk have a pole star, but we would strain to see a star at our pole.

But never mind.

This week, if clear, pop out as soon as it gets dark.

The cross is about third of the way up the SW sky, which is basically down the plain for most of us Wairarapians (is that a word?).

Note the cross’s long axis points east.

As the evening progresses, the cross dives towards the southern horizon, appearing to move in a clockwise rotation as the Earth rotates the other way under that sky.

If you then take the time to get up next morning while still dark, Crux (the astro name for the constellation) is now in the SE sky with that long axis now pointing west.

Somewhere between that early evening and early morning view, if you drew an imaginary straight line between them, there is the pole, around which all those southern stars are circling.

Also, the cross with its long axis has been pointing there the whole time.

It always makes we wonder how ancient sages didn’t catch on that what they were seeing is the Earth spinning.  It’s the same in the north – a lot of constellations near the north pole circle that pole.

Okay, it probably confused them that most stars, along with the sun, moon and planets, rise and set.

But they would have surely wondered why a certain number never disappear over the horizon but seem to circle a point in the sky during the night.

We now call these circumpolar stars.

So, have we got a pole star?

Yes, but you would need a really dark sky and the best kind of eyes to see it.

Sigma Octantis (in the constellation of Octans) is just above the limit of human vision, but if you watch the motion of Crux at different times, you can picture exactly where the pole is.

Crux circles it.

The picture shows all the circumpolar stars in time lapse and shows where the pole is.


Next week: More southern stars.



  1. Attention Nick.
    When I was a child I was given a book that had a picture called “Anatomical Zodiac Man.” Kaala Purusha,
    After considering and observing this for many years I realised that when adults became stressed the corresponding anatomical position on the body would be affected. Most times this was correct apart from general accidents, stress seemed to be expressed as a connection. After many years as I gained in age I began to consider the mechanics of this observation. I realised what our ancient ones had recorded is that the majestic night sky was like a full body made up of twelve anatomical zones. For the Egyptians this was the body of Nut. The heavenly realm, the Celestial Father was a full Celestial body, Ranginui.
    My focus on the region of origin of this traditional pattern made me realise that the idea “as above so below” was about a study of the Earth as an expression of the surrounding zones and that the zodiac signs were actually Earthly observations.

    A new life began as I was shown the Earthly connections and the full body of Mother Earth, the Holy Spirit, Papatuanuku. This began with the connection of Leo with the Sphinx, and the connection of Virgo the land of Israel. The scales connected with the Earthly zone of the Buddha region and balance. Moving towards the West I immediately discovered the head of the World and finally scrolled to Antarctica to discover the tail of the World. Traditionally his was the band around the equator, from the heads of Easter Island to Cancer at Stonehenge, to the Merlion at the junction between Leo and the tail of Pisces, but amazingly a physical body can be seen.

    I was now connected to a bodily cosmological template divided into twelve anatomical parts and knowledge, religious writings, mythologies, art, dance and much more matured to a new interpretation under this basic template.

    As a parent I am now aware this connection to our bodies is interactive. Stress when applied by one person can affect another. My research focuses on the evolution of life on Earth with direct correlation to the Earths evolution and planetary motion. Studying our Worlds animals you can discover the connection to the Worlds anatomy. At the top of the head the largest antlers can be found, traditionally the ram’s horns expressed this point of the anatomy. At the neck region of the World the massive neck of the buffalo is found, traditionally this was the neck of the bull. From the thigh region of the World the springy thighs of the kangaroo has evolved. This applies to all animals and all variation to a species.
    Welcome to a New World. Let the discoveries begin.
    Kind regards Barry Sears
    New Zealand

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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