The emblem of the southern hemisphere sky is here on the left: the Southern Cross, or Crux. But how many other crosses can you find in this field?
At the right is a larger version of Crux, made of two stars from Carina and two stars from Vela. So it’s not a proper constellation but an asterism well known in the southern hemisphere sky, called the False Cross.
You might also be able to pick out a third cross at lower centre, looking upside down but also made of four stars in an elongated diamond shape.
The prominent centre-stage object here is the massive Eta Carinae Nebula, sometimes just called the Carina Nebula (I’ve never determined what the proper and official name of it is). Surrounding it is an array of star clusters that make this area an absolute delight to explore with binoculars. But this week, at our stay at the Atacama Lodge, our small observing party has had fabulous views of the nebula in a big 18-inch telescope that reveals intricate structure in the swirls and eddies of its glowing clouds.
This is a stack of 6 exposures, each 3 minutes at f/4 with a 50mm Sigma lens and the Canon 5D MkII camera.
– Alan, May 6, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer