The Southern Cross is one of the most distinctive constellations visible in the Southern Hemisphere, and has been used to represent Australia since the early days of British settlement. Ivor Evans, one of the flag’s designers, intended the Southern Cross to also refer to the four moral virtues ascribed to the four main stars by Dante: justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude. The number of points on the stars of the Southern Cross on the modern Australian flag differs from the original competition-winning design, in which they ranged between five and nine points each, representing their relative brightness in the night sky. The stars are named after the first five letters of the Greek alphabet, in decreasing order of brightness in the sky. In order to simplify manufacture, the British Admiralty standardised the four larger outer stars at seven points each, leaving the smaller, more central star with five points. This change was officially gazetted on 23 February 1903.
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