stars to spot
Stargazing Calendar

Stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere

Gazing up at the nightsky in wonder is an activity humans have been enjoying for as long as we have roamed the earth. The Southern Hemisphere offers a unique opportunity to marvel at the dazzling display overhead because of the dark skies, especially when on safari, and to see different constellations that aren't visible un the Northern countries. Here is our Big 5  of celestial objects to look for during travels.

1. The southern cross
When: January - October 
Where: Just above the horizon in the south 

This is one of the easiest and most distinctive star patterns in the Southern skies to spot, and the one that cannot be seen in the Northern Hemisphere. It is visible almost all November and December when it is too low to see above the horizon. Look for a cross-shaped collection of stars, similar in shape to a kite. This patter of stars appears on the flag of Australia and New Zealand.


When: December - April 

Where: Above the horizon towards the North. 

Orion is on of the most recognisable of all star patterns (also known as constellations). It's belt consist of three bright stars in an almost perfect straight line, which makes it easy to identify. These three start are among the furthest objects in our nightsky that can be seen with the naked eye. In the Southern Hemisphere, Orion the Hunter is upside down, with the two bright stars that create his shoulders (Bellatrix and Betelgeuse) at the buttom of the two bright stars that form hids knees (Rigel and Saiph) at the top. 

When: December - April All year round

Where: A little bit up and to the right of Orion's Belt. 

Follow the line of the Orion's Belt up and to the right towards the brightest star in the night sky, this is Sirius. Also sometimes called the DogStar, Sirius forms part of the constellation of Canis Major, one of the hunting dogs that is Orion's faithful companion. 
4. Scorpius

When: May - October 

Where: Towards the East in May & June', overhead July and August and towards the West in September.

During the Southern African winter months, Scorpius "the scorpion" is the one of the most beautiful constellations to admire. The tail of the scorpion creates a question mark in the sky, which is the easiest way to identify this pattern. 
5. The milky way
Where: All year around 
Where: Directly overhead, stretching from south east to north west. 
The most impressive and memorable stargazing is our very own galaxy, the Milky Way, which stretches across the skies as a band of brilliantly dazzling stars. Our galaxy is shaped like a great, flattened disc which has a spiral structure. The centre of our Galaxy is a bulged patch, much like an egg, which we see as a faint glow. This patch of light consists of billions of stars that are 25,000 light years away. In other words, the light we see today left those stars 25,000 yes ago. How is that of mind blowing?