The Northern Cross isn’t one of the 88 official constellations. It’s an asterism or recognizable star pattern, part of the constellation Cygnus the Swan.
Favorite Star Patterns
In this hemisphere, we call it the Winter Circle, but it can be seen from around the globe. It’s a big circle of brilliant stars.
The Hyades star cluster represents the Face of Taurus the Bull. The cluster is easy to spot and beautiful in binoculars.
Frosty November is often called the month of the Pleiades, because it’s when this star cluster – sometimes called the Seven Sisters – shines from dusk until dawn.
The Great Square of Pegasus consists of four stars of nearly equal brightness that make a large square pattern. It is best seen from September to March.
Two things set Sagittarius apart from all other constellations: the winter solstice sun shines in front of it, and it marks the direction to the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
The Coathanger star cluster – also known as Brocchi’s cluster – is a tiny pattern of stars on our sky’s dome. It really looks like a coat hanger and is surprisingly easy to make out through binoculars. The trick to viewing the Coathanger is to start from the star Albireo and to star-hop to its spot in the sky.
Three stars – Graffias, Dschubba and Pi Scorpii – make up the Scorpion’s Crown.
During the summer months, the Summer Triangle star formation lights the sky from dusk until dawn. It consists of three bright stars: Vega in the constellation Lyra, Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, and Altair in the constellation Aquila.
From the N. Hemisphere, you have to be in Hawaii, or south Florida or south Texas – about 26 degrees N. latitude or further south – to see the Southern Cross.
The Big Dipper is easy. And, once you find it, you can find the Little Dipper, too. Plus … learn how the stars of the Big Dipper are moving in space.