The Southern Cross constellation visible in the southern hemisphere. "For the lucky residents of the Southern Hemisphere, or those fortunate enough to enjoy a vacation in Hawaii or Cancun, there’s a stellar delight that few Northerners know about. It’s called the Southern Cross, a small but beautiful constellation located in the southern sky, very close to the neighboring constellation of Centaurus. Originally known by the Latin name Crux, which is due to its cross shape, this constellation is one of the easiest to identify in the night sky. For centuries, it has served as a navigational beacon for sailors, an important symbol to the Egyptians, and played an important role in the spiritual beliefs of the Aborigines and many other cultures in the Southern Hemisphere. The first recorded example of Crux’s discovery was around 1000 BC during the time of the Ancient Greeks. At the latitude of Athens, Crux was clearly visible, though low in the night sky. At the time, the Greeks identified it as being part of the constellation Centaurus. However, the precession of the equinoxes gradually lowered its stars below the European horizon, and they were eventually forgotten by the inhabitants of northern latitudes. Crux fell into anonymity for northerners until the Age of Discovery (from the early 15th to early 17th centuries) when it was rediscovered by Europeans. The first to do so were the Portuguese, who mapped it for navigation uses while rounding the southern tip of Africa."