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    Southern Stars
    From: Brad Morris
    Date: 2010 Apr 20, 08:26 -0700

    I have just returned from another stint in Australia.

    I managed to find the time there to observe the southern sky at night, in a very rural location. Just about zero light pollution. South 38d 22.1m East 144d 16.9m. It was near Melbourne, the location was Bells Beach. Normally, I am at North 40d West 73d, Long Island, New York.

    While it may be quite familiar to some, I was thrilled to see those southern stars which NEVER appear above my horizon. How did I know which ones were which? I mean, they all do look alike :-) I used my Celestron Skyscout!

    I was able to see the southern cross, and know it, for the very first time. Alpha Centauri, our closest neighbor, was also in plain view. Canopus, the second brightest star, was visible. I traversed the Navigational stars found in the Nautical Alamanc, picking off all of those which were visible for my location and time. Sirius, which I can see from my home on the southern horizon, was now on my northern horizon. What excitement!

    I searched in vain for a bright star in declination beyond South 63 degrees (Acrux). Sure, that's the largest southern declination star in the Nautical Alamanc, but I was hopeful that I could find a star that appeared in the Bright Stars catalog maintained by the US Naval Observatory. Maybe it was the time and location, but I just couldn't see any.

    I longed to have my sextant, so I could take some star-star distances which are unavailable to me at my northern location. Alas, I did not bring it with me. Too risky for international airplane flights. Probably be siezed as a dangerous instrument. Imagine trying to explain to a security agent why I need to bring it with me on the plane. Check it? HA! Sure, and have it destroyed or stolen.

    Best Regards
    Brad



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