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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|Alpha Centaurids||Jan 28 - Feb 21||Feb 07||Rigil Kentaurus|
|Beta Centaurids||2-Feb - 25 Feb||Feb 8/9||Hadar|
|Omicron Centaurids||Jan 31 - Feb 19||Feb 11||Omicron Centauri|
|Theta Centaurids||Feb 12 - Feb 16||Feb 14||Menkent|
|July Centaurids||5th July|
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.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Rigil Kentaurus||Alpha Centauri||4.32||14h 39m 40.90||-60d 50` 06.5||G2V||Yellow|
|Hadar||Beta Centauri||392.02||14h 03m 49.44||-60d 22` 22.7||B1III||Blue/White|
|Muhlifain||Gamma Centauri||130.15||12h 41m 31.20||-48d 57` 35.6||A1IV||White|
|Delta Centauri||Delta Centauri||414.97||12h 08m 21.54||-50d 43` 20.7||B2IVne||Blue/White|
|Epsilon Centauri||Epsilon Centauri||427.47||13h 39m 53.27||-53d 27` 58.9||B1III||Blue/White|
|Zeta Centauri||Zeta Centauri||381.92||13h 55m 32.43||-47d 17` 17.8||B2.5IV||Blue/White|
|Eta Centauri||Eta Centauri||305.68||14h 35m 30.45||-42d 09` 27.9||B1Vn + A||Blue/White|
|Menkent||Theta Centauri||58.82||14h 06m 41.32||-36d 22` 07.3||K0IIIb||Orange|
|Iota Centauri||Iota Centauri||58.78||13h 20m 36.07||-36d 42` 43.5||A2V||White|
|Lambda Centauri||Lambda Centauri||419.77||11h 35m 46.93||-63d 01` 11.4||B9II:||Blue/White|
|Pi Centauri||Pi Centauri||357.64||11h 21m 00.44||-54d 29` 27.7||B5Vn||Blue/White|
|Sigma Centauri||Sigma Centauri||411.82||12h 28m 02.41||-50d 13` 50.2||B3V||Blue/White|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Brightest Star||Rigil Kentaurus|
|Area||1060.422 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||2.57%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||43|
|Meteor Shower Count||8|
|Nearest Star||Proxima Centauri|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||HD 113538|
|Largest Star||V766 Centauri|
|Brightest Star||Rigil Kentaurus|
|Dimmest Star||V928 Centauri|
|Furthest Star||HIP 65307|
|Bright Star Count||174|
|Hipparcos Star Count||4263|
|Main Star Count||12|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||0|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Hydra|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|BOOMERANG NEBULA||Nebula||-54 31 13.356991600||12 44 46m 0900155125|
|Centaurus A||Seyfert 2 Galaxy||10-16 Million Ly||-43:01:09||13h 25h 27m 6|
|Lupus SN||Supernova Remnant||-42 05 49||15 02 22m 1|
|NGC4622||Spiral Galaxy||200 Million Ly||-40 44 39.41||12 42 37m 621|
|Omega Centauri||Globular Cluster||15,800 ly||-47d 28` 46.1||13h 26m 47m 28|
|Pearl Cluster||Cluster||5500 LY||-61` 37||11h 36m 1|
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