We live on a planet that is constantly moving, which affects what we see in the sky. As the Earth rotates on its axis, we experience day and night. As the Earth orbits around the Sun, we experience the seasons. For each season we see different constellations in the night sky. For example, the constellation of Scorpius is best seen during winter, while the constellation of Orion is visible on summer evenings. The Southern Cross is a good constellation to watch throughout the entire year because it never disappears below the horizon. It can always be seen circling around the South Celestial Pole.
The information given is for around 8pm (AEST) during March.
The Southern Cross in Autumn
Copyright: Melbourne Planetarium.
In the night sky:
The Southern Cross is almost horizontal, and can be seen towards the south-east, with the Two Pointers, Alpha and Beta Centauri, directly below.
The bright band of stars called the Milky Way, arches across the sky from north-west to south-east.
Canis Major (the large dog), that contains Sirius the brightest star in the night sky, and Canis Minor (the small dog), that contains a slightly fainter star called Procyon, are both found high in the north-western sky.
Gemini (the twins), has two bright stars called Castor and Pollux, and is found low in the north. Cancer, the crab, and Leo, the lion, with the bright star Regulus, are low in the north-eastern sky.
The star Spica, in the constellation of Virgo, the maiden, can be found low in the south-east.
The second brightest star in the night sky, Canopus, is now high overhead.
With 7 x 50 binoculars:
Two open star clusters can be found in the constellation of Cancer, which lies to the north. They are the Beehive, that contains around 50 stars and M 67, which is made up of around 200 stars.
In the south between the Southern Cross and the Eta Carinae Nebula, there is an open star cluster called NGC 3532 that some say is the finest open cluster of its type in the sky. Only a short distance from this cluster is another good open cluster NGC 3293.
With a telescope:
In the Milky Way between Canopus and the Southern Cross we find the Keyhole Nebula.
High and almost overhead in Monoceros (the unicorn), we find the Rosette Nebula.