The Southern Cross
(The Constellation Crux)
The Southern Cross is the best known and most represented star group in the Southern Hemisphere. The group's distinctive shape is easily located because of its brightness and close proximity to each other. It can be seen all year round from almost anywhere in the Australia. The constellation is not visible in the northern hemisphere.
The Southern Cross contains four bright stars so situated that they depict the extremities of a Latin cross. Thousands of years ago these four stars were an object of reverence in the Near East. In the Biblical days they were just visible at the horizon. It was last seen from the latitude of Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion of Christ. It is no longer visible at latitudes north of 25 degrees.
The constellation was again discovered in the early sixteenth century by European navigators and explorers who used it to steer by and also to calculate the time of day. Because it is not visible in the northern skies, there are no Greek or Roman myths or legends associated with it. Instead the Australian Aborigines have many stories to tell using the stars of the Southern Cross.
The Southern Cross & the Australian Flag
The design of the Australian flag was chosen in 1901 after an Australia-wide competition. One of the five finalists, with identical designs, was a fourteen year old schoolboy from Melbourne, Ivor Evans, who used the Southern Cross to represent the four moral virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude (as portrayed by the Italian poet, Dante), principles that Australians should live up to.
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