Centaurus (Pronounciation:Cen-tore-us, Abbrev:Cen) 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. The constellation gets its name as it 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.
Centaurus is a southern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the northern hemisphere. The brightest star in Centaurus is Rigil Kentaurus. There are 16 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) detailed on this site.
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.
The constellation contains the three closest stars to the Earth. The closest is a red dwarf star that goes by the name Proxima Centauri, a small red dwarf star. Its interest has increased recently because it was found to have a planet orbiting. A little further away are the twin stars Alpha Centauri A and B also known as Rigil Kentaurus. Proxima Centauri is a little too dim to be seen by the naked eye but Alpha A and B are possible.
There are 4 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The ones listed as the ones I've been able to find a date range for. For others if you have the time, you can visit the AMU site, obtains the SL value then use IMO tables to calculate the date. A lot of the Meteor Showers are weak and you need to do a lot of stargazing to spot them.
|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|
|Hadar||525.22||-60 d 22 ` 22.7||14h 03m 49.44|
|Ke Kwan||539.11||-42 d 06 ` 14.9||14h 59m 09.70|
|Menkent||60.94||-36 d 22 ` 07.3||14h 06m 41.32|
|Muhlifain||130.41||-48 d 57 ` 35.6||12h 41m 31.20|
|Proxima Centauri||4.22||-62 d 40`52.9||14h 29m 47.75|
|Rigil Kentaurus||4.4||-60 d 50 ` 06.5||14h 39m 40.90|