Look after our night sky

How to find the Southern Cross

The Southern Cross is our iconic asterism — group of stars. We find it on our flag, on other countries flags, on logos, t-shirts — just to count a few places, and in the night sky. 

From New Zealand, the Southern Cross is circumpolar, this means it will always be in the sky at dusk. Circumpolar means that it rotates around the pole, in a circle. All the stars in the southern circumpolar region rotate clockwise.

The Circumpolar Region

Imagine a big clock in the sky that stretches from the horizon to about 80 degrees above the horizon. The purple circle in the picture below marks the imaginary clock’s face. The Southern Cross will seem to rotate within that part of the sky just like the small hand of a clock. Southern Cross does a complete turn in 23 hours and 56 minutes (so not in 24 hours). 

Zenith is the point above our head. 

The South Celestial Pole (SCP) is the imaginary extension of the South Pole in the sky. You can find it in the sky at the same height, measured in degrees, as the latitude of the observer. For instance, the height of the South Celestial Pole from Wellington will be 41 degrees, the same as the latitude of Wellington. At the South Pole, the SCP will be directly overhead, at Zenith or 90 degrees. 

The Circumpolar Region of the Sky as seen from Wellington. Made with Stellarium.

How to find the Southern Cross

Sofian's favourite stories on the Southern Cross

About the Light Pollution Campaign. 


Once a month, around the New Moon you can join our Light Pollution Project as a Citizen Scientist! 

Join in and measure light pollution on your street!

Every month, around New Moon, for about a week, the sky is dark enough to see many stars. This is the perfect time to measure light pollution, by comparing what we should see to what we actually see in the sky. Go out on your street at night a couple of hours after sunset and count the number of stars you see around the Southern Cross.
Compare your results with the maps we provide. Then report them on the Globe at Night website. We support you to do these activities and if you get stuck just send us a message. 

Follow this link for a step by step guide of what you need to do.

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