What is that mess of stars

I’m in Hawaii. Even from my light-polluted balcony, I could see a good portion of the southern sky. I almost didn’t recognize Leo, high in the sky at an absurd angle. Saturn and Spica are still paired. I don’t know Virgo well enough to disapprove of its position. To the southeast, though, I saw a whole bunch of stars. They were bright and grouped, and clearly looked like a constellation. I had no idea what, though.

“What is that mess of stars?” I muttered rhetorically to my wife. It didn’t look familiar at all. I tried to think of what could be there. I couldn’t pick out the end of Scorpio’s tail, nor the teapot of Sagittarius. But I was determined to try to figure it out without pulling out my phone.

And then I saw the district kite shape of the Southern Cross. And that meant Centaurus was next to it. Would that mean I could see Alpha Centauri? At my home latitude of 42 N, I would never be able to see it. I had to check my phone since I’m not familiar with Centaurus. Yes, that was definitely Alpha Centauri. And wow, was it bright! Well, that makes sense, since it is the alpha star after all. It was awesome seeing the closest star system to our planet.

Also, as I type this on my phone, I keep mistyping “Alpha” as “Aloha”. Clearly my subconscious has something it wants to say.

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