The Royal Australian Mint have announced the second in their Southern Sky series of astronomical coins which started last year with the “Crux” coin. This year we have “Pavo”, a constellation most visible in August and first described in 1598 by the Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius and making its debut in the 1603 Uranometria of Johann Bayert. Often referred to as the ‘Peacock’, it is beautifully depicted on this unique, brightly coloured and domed coin.
Pavo is one of twelve constellations created by Petrus Plancius from the observations of Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman during their voyage to the southern seas between 1595 and 1597 on board the Hollandia. It first appeared on a celestial globe in 1597. It’s visible at latitudes between +30 and -90 degrees in the southern hemisphere and best at mid-evening during August. The biggest and brightest star is Alpha Pavonis, a Blue Giant approximately 190 light years from Earth. The closest star, Delta Pavonis, is only 20 light years from Earth and of a similar construction to our own Sun. This makes it a target for the NASA TPF (Terrestrial Planet Finder) mission planned for launch between 2014 and 2020.
The coin itself carries a denomination of $5 AUS, a diameter of 39.62mm and is 31.1g of 0.999 silver. It has a coloured proof finish and a mintage of 10,000 pieces.
This really is an outstanding coin in every way. A simple innovation, but an extremely effective one and the subject matter could not be more appropriate to the design. The whole series deserves to be an unqualified success. Simply beautiful. We’ve bought this one ourselves and a Crux to go with it.