The European Southern Observatory’s “Cosmic Gems” programme is an ongoing initiative to collect astronomical images of educational interest and public outreach, showcasing the institution’s powerful telescopes during periods when they cannot be used for science observations. This composite image, captured by the Very Large Telescope’s FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph, or FORS, instrument shows a patch of sky in the Crux, or Southern Cross, constellation, a particularly bright section of the Milky Way packed with stars. The use of filters brings out spectacular blues and reds.
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Exploring the riches of the Southern Cross
The Southern Cross, or Crux to give it its official name, is the smallest of all the 88 constellations and an iconic feature of the antipodean sky. Yet it is not solely an asterism and navigation aid of the far south, as it can be seen from the Tropic of Cancer when best placed. Come and explore its wealth of interesting objects for binoculars and small telescopes.