Universe Guide

Centaurus, The Centaur Constellation

Centaurus Constellation Star Map

Centaurus (Pronounciation:Cen-tore-us, Abbrev:Cen, Latin:Centauri) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Centaurus takes up 1060.422 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 2.57% of the night sky. Centaurus is the 9th largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation name means The Centaur . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

There are 12 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 4263 stars. There are 174 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

Centaurus is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Centaurus is a southern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the northern hemisphere.

There are 43 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Centaurus. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Centaurus is V766 Centauri.

There are no deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.

The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.

Distance to Centaurus

You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 4.32 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 427.47 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 280.28 light years.

Centaurus Star Facts

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

HIP 65307, Centaurus's Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 65307 and it is 326163.3 light years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

V928 Centauri, Centaurus's Dimmest Visible Star

The dimmest star that can be seen in Centaurus with the naked eye is V928 Centauri. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan.

Proxima Centauri

Centaurus constellation contains the three closest stars to our solar system, excluding our Sun of course. The closest star to us is Proxima Centauri which is a small red dwarf star located about 4 light years away.

Proxima is not visible in the night sky due to its brightness and size. It was discovered that Proxima Centauri had a planet in orbit round it and raised hopes that there could be life on the planet. Hopes were dashed when it was discovered that the planet was doused with deadly radiation from a solar flare.

Rigil Kentaurus

Rigil Kentaurus is the officially recognised proper name for Alpha Centauri, the second closest star to our solar system. It is roughly equivalent to our own star in size and shape, both stars are classed as yellow main sequence stars. In addition to Proxima Centauri, there is another, third star, Alpha Centauri B in orbit in the multi-star system.

BPM 37093

If you could fly to this star, you would be rich beyond your wildest dreams. BPM 37093 or the more easily said Lucy is a 10 billion trillion trillion carat diamond. It was given the nickname Lucy after the Beatles song, "Lucy in the sky with diamonds."

How to Find and View Centaurus in the Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

You would have to be as far south as Miami to be able to see the constellation of Centaurus. Even then, the constellation only barely registers on the horizon between May and September, you'd have to go somewhere away from all the light.

Southern Hemisphere

Centaurus starts making an appearance in November but isn't fully visible until end of January in the south east. The constellation will move high into the sky before disappearing back in the south westerly direction in August-September.

Centaurus Mythology

Centaurs were half horse - half man creatures of Grecian Legend. The most famous is Sagittarius . Hercules encountered Centaurs during his fourth labour as he went to Capture the Erymanthian Boar. The constellation refers to Pholus, a friend of Hercules who provided him with food and help.

Meteor Showers Radiating from Centaurus

There are 8 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
Alpha CentauridsJan 28 - Feb 21 Feb 07Rigil Kentaurus
Beta Centaurids2-Feb - 25 FebFeb 8/9Hadar
Omicron CentauridsJan 31 - Feb 19Feb 11Omicron Centauri
Theta CentauridsFeb 12 - Feb 16Feb 14Menkent
July Centaurids5th July  

List of Main Stars in Centaurus

The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Centaurus Star List page.

NameBayerDistance (Lt.Yr.)Right AscensionDeclinationSpectral TypeColour
Rigil KentaurusAlpha Centauri4.3214h 39m 40.90-60d 50` 06.5G2VYellow
HadarBeta Centauri392.0214h 03m 49.44-60d 22` 22.7B1IIIBlue/White
MuhlifainGamma Centauri130.1512h 41m 31.20-48d 57` 35.6A1IVWhite
Delta CentauriDelta Centauri414.9712h 08m 21.54-50d 43` 20.7B2IVneBlue/White
Epsilon CentauriEpsilon Centauri427.4713h 39m 53.27-53d 27` 58.9B1IIIBlue/White
Zeta CentauriZeta Centauri381.9213h 55m 32.43-47d 17` 17.8B2.5IVBlue/White
Eta CentauriEta Centauri305.6814h 35m 30.45-42d 09` 27.9B1Vn + ABlue/White
MenkentTheta Centauri58.8214h 06m 41.32-36d 22` 07.3K0IIIbOrange
Iota CentauriIota Centauri58.7813h 20m 36.07-36d 42` 43.5A2VWhite
Lambda CentauriLambda Centauri419.7711h 35m 46.93-63d 01` 11.4B9II:Blue/White
Pi CentauriPi Centauri357.6411h 21m 00.44-54d 29` 27.7B5VnBlue/White
Sigma CentauriSigma Centauri411.8212h 28m 02.41-50d 13` 50.2B3VBlue/White

Centaurus Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarRigil Kentaurus
Area1060.422 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky2.57%
Size Position9th
Hemisphere Southern
Site Exoplanet Count43
Meteor Shower Count8
Nearest StarProxima Centauri
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HD 113538
Largest StarV766 Centauri
Brightest StarRigil Kentaurus
Dimmest StarV928 Centauri
Furthest StarHIP 65307
Bright Star Count174
Hipparcos Star Count4263
Main Star Count12
Messier Deep Space Object Count0
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsHydra

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Centaurus

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Boomerang NebulaNebula-54 31 13.35699160012 44 46m 0900155125
Centaurus ASeyfert 2 Galaxy10,000,000 -16,000,0-43:01:0913h 25h 27m 6
Lupus SNSupernova Remnant-42 05 4915 02 22m 1
NGC 5398Low Surface Brightness Galaxy-33 03 49.6214 01 21m 555
NGC4622Spiral Galaxy200,000,000-40 44 39.4112 42 37m 621
Omega CentauriGlobular Cluster15800-47d 28` 46.113h 26m 47m 28
Pearl ClusterOpen Star Cluster5500 -61` 3711h 36m 1
SN 1006Supernova Remnant-42 05 4915 02 22m 1
SN 1895BSupernova Remnant-31 38 3113 39 55m 9
SN 1972ESupernova Remnant-31 40 0913 39 52m 7

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