By Vicky Stein, Published November 03, 2022
The iconic group of stars is visible mainly from the Southern Hemisphere. Because of its orientation in the night sky, the Southern Cross has historically served as an essential navigational guide: two of its major stars form a line that points to the South Pole. The Southern Cross is also featured in the flags of several Southern Hemisphere countries.
Crux is the smallest of the 88 official constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) (opens in new tab). The Southern Cross is not the entire region of the sky that makes up Crux, but rather just the four (or five) stars that make its iconic cross shape: That’s what makes it an asterism.