Flags and stars

This post on Scienceblogs’ Starts With a Bang talks about national flags around the world that have stars – or, even more accurately, constellations – on them.

It also talks about the different tips to find the north and south polar stars using constellations as guides. Having lived most of my life in the northern hemisphere I was aware of the simple method for finding Polaris: you use the two edge stars of the Big Dipper to point the way.

It looks like finding the southern celestial pole is trickier, though, with a complicated combination of the Southern Cross and two nearby “pointer stars”. I’m eager to wait for clearer nightime skies to give that a try.