“The English flag may flutter and wave,
where the world wide oceans toss,
but the flag the Australian dies to save,
is the flag of the Southern Cross.”
(Banjo Paterson wrote in 1893)
The brightest constellation in the Southern Hemisphere, Southern Cross ( Crux) is visible for twelve months from locations south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It gets its name from its four brightest stars, which form the outline of a cross. It’s the smallest constellation in terms of size and you can only see five stars with the naked eye, but Crux actually contains many stars. Southern Cross has a great cultural significance in the countries in Southern Hemisphere. Southern Cross appears on the flags of Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. The Australian flag uses three prominent symbols: the Union Flag, the Commonwealth Star (also the Federation Star) and the Southern Cross (or Crux). In 1967 French Astronomer Augustin Royer officially named this constellation ‘Crux Australis ‘
Southern Cross Stars
Every star in each constellation is named by astronomers, using a letter of Greek Alphabet followed by the name of the constellation
This is the Brightest star of the Southern Cross. A star of the first magnitude in terms of the brightness of the star. This star is 245 light years away from earth and is seen on the foot of the Cross.
It is a star of third magnitude and 450 light years away from earth and seen on the left
It is a star of second magnitude and seen on the right.
It is a very faint, blue luminous star
Star of the second magnitude and seen on top of the cross.
Southern Cross Constellation
The Aborigines have known Southern Cross for many thousand s of years and have a legend about the constellation.
The Aboriginal legend about Southern Cross
Long, Long ago where there were no fire on earth, two brothers, Jitabidi and Kanbi , camped near the Southern Cross in the sky. One of their campfires was Alpha Crucis, the brightest star of the Southern Cross
When food became scarce, the sky men Jitabidi and Kanbi decided to visit the earth to hunt for possums. They bought their firesticks with them and made camp. While Jitabid and Kambi were away hunting, the fire sticks got up to mischief and chased each other through the bush, setting it on fire as they went along. Seeing the smoke, Jitabidi and Kanbi quickly returned and caught their firesticks, taking them back to the Southern Cross in the sky.
Meanwhile several aborigines out hunting discovered some of the burning timer and took a blazing log back to their camp, as they liked the warmth the fire gave. This new discovery was shared and that’s how all aborigines now have fire which once belonged only to the men of the Southern Cross.
Eureka Stockade and Southern Cross
In Australia, the Southern Cross played a crucial role as symbol of the Eureka Stockade. In the Eureka Oath from Peter Lalor’s famous speech in 1854 under the Eureka Flag he proclaimed “We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.” Of the Australian national flag.
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