Stephen James O'Meara's Secret Sky: The Christmas Cross: a matter of life and death
December 2009: The Northern Cross sets in the west-northwest as Christians celebrate Jesus' birth.
October 26, 2009
As Christmas nears, go outside around 8 p.m. and look for a large, striking crucifix of stars standing right above the west-northwest horizon. It is a sight to behold and a powerful symbol to ponder.
The Northern Cross is a roughly 20°-long asterism made up of the brightest stars in the constellation Cygnus the Swan. Its form lies atop the Great Rift, a series of overlapping non-luminous molecular dust clouds located between the solar system and the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way. To the naked eye, they divide the bright band of the Milky Way lengthwise through Cygnus.
Photo by John Chumack
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