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Myriads of Blazing Suns

The Southern Cross

How to Tell the Time

An Infallible Direction Indicator

Outstanding Stars

Stars of the Centaur

Strange Aboriginal Folklore

A Glowing Mass of Stars

Super Suns of the Heavens

The False Cross

The Southern Triangle

Ara and The Scorpion

Other Stars



strange aboriginal folklore

A little to one side of the line joining the Cross and Achernar is a hazy patch known as the Lesser Magellanic Cloud. It lies about halfway between Achernar and the South Pole of the Heavens (the centre of our clock-dial), while a larger glowing patch, the Greater Magellanic Cloud, is more easily discernible on the other side of the imaginary line, a little farther from the Pole.

The aborigines pictured these as the homes of two brothers, one story being that the elder brother lived in the larger Cloud. The younger brother, who occupied the smaller Cloud, sought to spear the escaping spirit of each dying aborigine. If the dying man had led a good life, the elder brother intervened and prevented the younger one from spearing the spirit and making a meal of it at his campfire, which was Achernar.

A study of these two unique objects shows that they are composed of mil-lions of stars and glowing gas. They contain many features of great interest, including numbers of variable stars, whose brightness waxes and wanes, and others which appear to be as much as half a million times as bright as the Sun.

These groups of stars are considered by some to be appendages to our Galaxy --the apparently bun-shaped mass of tens of thousands of millions of stars of which our Sun is but one. As the Clouds are not visible to many of the Northern Hemisphere observatories, they present a source of interesting research to those in the Southern Hemisphere.



Wonder Book of Knowledge