Southern Celestial Wayfinder

The stars are perfectly aligned in this image of the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope, located on Cerro Pachón in Chile and operated by Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. The Milky Way galaxy appears to be pouring out of the open dome and spilling across the colorful sky. The wash of yellow and green near the horizon is a mix of airglow and light pollution from nearby villages. Where the two colors transition, the Large Magellanic Cloud and Small Magellanic Cloud shine through (lower left). But near the center of this image is a truly notable grouping: the constellation Crux. Also known as the Southern Cross, it’s discoverable by its red star (the top of the cross) and three nearby blue stars that form a cross shape. This grouping of stars has been a beacon for both European and Pacific Islander navigators for centuries. Its navigational use is akin to Polaris, but instead of directing people to the North Pole, Crux points — roughly — towards the South Pole.

This gigantic 900-megapixel photo was taken as part of the NOIRLab 2022 Photo Expedition to all the NOIRLab sites. Tomas Slovinský, the photographer, is a NOIRLab Audiovisual Ambassador.


Credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T. Slovinský

About the Image

Release date:March 13, 2024, noon
Size:12319 x 12885 px

About the Object


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Large JPEGLarge JPEG
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