One of the hit series from the last few years and one that helped popularise the growing market for the hard to strike domed coin format, Southern Sky was a three-coin range of 1oz domed silver coins depicting constellations visible in the southern night sky. First appearing in 2012 with the constellation Crux, a new coin was released annually, with Pavo in 2013 and Orion in 2014. After a short break, we’re glad to report that the concept is to continue with the natural progression to the north.

Northern Sky is also to be a three-coin series and starts off with Cassiopeia. The design is pretty much identical to those that preceded it, except where previously the whole centre of the coin was filled with a brightly coloured depiction of the constellation, this new one has more muted colours and a clean struck crescent tree-line to enhance the sense of realism at the expense of the more clinical look previously employed. Which is preferable is a matter of opinion, but it’s good to see the concept evolve. Packaging has changed to the new standardised box the Royal Australian Mint now uses, nice enough, but we’ll miss the more original tins.

With the first coin Southern Sky Crux now selling for multiples of the issue price, and Pavo showing signs of following suit, the news that there are another three coins coming will possibly add impetus to the appreciation of these fine coins, especially with the mintage now at only 5,000 pieces, half the previous number. We’ve always loved the simplicity of design, the quality of strike, and the brilliant way the domed form of the coin fits the concept so well, so these are very welcome additions for collectors of astronomy coins, and the growing number of collectors buying domed coins for the format rather than the subject. Available to order now for $120.00 AUD, the coin will ship in the first week of December.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was the beautiful but boastful queen of Ethiopia. While her beauty could never be questioned, her vanity became her tragic legacy.

The sea god Nereus was the proud father of many lovely nymph-daughters known as Nerieds. When Cassiopeia proclaimed that she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than any of them, she invoked the scorn of the ruling sea god Poseidon. His raging waters would destroy her kingdom unless she was tied to a chair in the sky and Andromeda was sacrificed.

Cassiopeia can still be seen in the northern skies today, with her throne circling the celestial pole and her arm desperately hanging on. As per Poseidon’s wishes, the constellation is sometimes seen upside down, and appears as either an M or W depending on when it is being viewed.

After being catalogued in the second century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy, it is still classed as one of today’s 88 modern constellations.

REVERSE: A central circle containing a coloured representation of a star chart including a stylised representation of a field of stars, 3 right ascension lines and 2 declination lines. Superimposed on the star chart is a stylised representation of the constellation Cassiopeia. The design includes a stylised representation of a pine forest, superimposed on a representation of a pine forest in silhouette. Surrounding the central circle is an ornamental border. The design also includes the inscriptions ‘+60°’, ‘2h’, ‘1h’, ‘NORTHERN SKY – CASSIOPEIA’ and ‘FIVE DOLLARS’.

OBVERSE: An effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appears on the obverse side of the coin together with the inscriptions ‘ELIZABETH II’, ‘AUSTRALIA’ and the inscription, in numerals, of a year. The obverse design includes the initials of the designer Ian Rank-Broadley ‘IRB’.

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$5 AUD 0.999 SILVER 31.135 g 39.62 mm PROOF 5,000 YES / YES
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT