Crux, the four-star Southern Cross, toward the upper right, lies southwest of Centaurus, and precedes the two bright stars of the Centaur across the southern sky. The smallest constellation in the sky, it just beats Equuleus (the smallest ancient constellation) for the record. Rigel Kentaurus, Alpha Centauri, the closest star to the Earth, lies at far lower left. Beta Centauri, Hadar, lies between Alpha and the Cross. Epsilon Centauri, toward upper left, links this photo to one of northern Centaurus. The stars near the far right edge also belong to Centaurus. Acrux, Crux's brightest star, is at the bottom (the southern end) of the Cross, Mimosa (Beta Crucis) is on the left side, Gacrux (Gamma Crucis) is on top, and Delta Crucis is on the right. Mu Cru is the brighter star up and to the left of Mimosa, while Epsilon is tucked into the lower right quadrant of the Cross between Delta and Acrux. Alpha Circini (of Circinus) lies near the lower left edge, while Alpha Muscae (of Musca)is near the lower right edge.

Photo by Greg Dimijian.

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By Jim Kaler. Return to STARS.