The Four Southern Birds
To observers in the southern hemisphere this time of year the four southern birds, Grus the Crane, Pave the Peacock, Phoenix the Phoenix and Tucana the Toucan are high in the sky. None of these birds are visible from Britain.
Grus is probably the most distinctive; the brightest star alpha at magnitude 1.7 is called Alnair which in Arabic means the ‘bright one’. The other bright star is beta at magnitude 2.1. The constellation was created in 1603 by the German astronomer Johann Bayer. In earlier middle age time Grus was known as Phoenicopterus the Flamingo.
Phoenix the Phoenix was also added to the night sky in 1603 by Bayer. It commemorates the mythical bird that burns itself to death and then rises from the ashes. It is not as conspicuous as Grus and only has one bright star alpha whose name is Ankaa has a magnitude of 2.4, the meaning of which is not certain.
The next bird is Pavo the Peacock there is one bright star alpha t magnitude 1.9 which surprisingly does not have a name. This constellation was created by the Dutch explorers Peter Keyser and Frederick de Houtman in 1595.
The last of the southern birds is Tucana the Toucan, this constellation was also created by the Dutch explorers Peter Keyser and Frederick de Houtman in 1595. The brightest star alpha is only of magnitude 2.9. However Tucana the Small Magellanic cloud.