The Centaur

Fully Visible:90°S – 25°N

The ancient Greeks visualised this group of stars as a centaur, a creature with the body of a horse, and the head and torso of a man where the horse's neck and head would be. Some authorities claim that the constellation honours Chiron, tutor to many Greek legendary heroes. Others say that Sagittarius is Chiron and that Centaurus represents the wilder members of the species.

The constellations of Crux and Lupus were originally part of Centaurus.

The constellation of Centaurus

Notable Features

Visible Named Stars
α Cen A Rigil Kentaurus This is a first magnitude star and the closest one to the Sun. It sometimes appears as Bungula (from the Greek letter β and Latin ungula meaning 'the hoof') in older star atlases and catalogues.
α Cen B Toliman The second-brightest component of the α Centauri star system also has a name.
α Cen C Proxima Centauri This component of α Centauri is closest to the Sun.
β Cen Hadar This is another first magnitude star in this constellation. It sometimes appears as Agena (from the Greek letter α and Latin genu meaning 'the knee') in older star atlases and catalogues.
θ Cen Menkent This is the northernmost bright star of the constellation.
Other Interesting Stars
HD 102117 Uklun This seventh-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet. It is located near ο¹ Cen and ο² Cen.
HD 117618 Dofida Found next to globular cluster C80, this seventh-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
WASP‑15 Nyamien This eleventh-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet. It is found in the far north of the constellation, near the border with Hydra.
Deep Sky Objects
C77 Centaurus A This unusual radio galaxy is is either a giant elliptical or giant lenticular galaxy. It possesses a very active galactic nucleus, with a relativistic jet being ejected from it. It appears as number 5128 in the New General Catalogue.
C80 ω Centauri The biggest and brightest globular cluster in the sky is ω Centauri. Visible to the naked eye, a small telescope will reveal its brightest stars. It is so unusual and unlike other globular clusters that some researchers think that it might be the core of a disrupted dwarf galaxy.
C83 This is a nearly edge-on spiral galaxy with prominent dust lanes visible on long-exposure photographs. It is also known as NGC 4945.
C84 A globular cluster, this extragalactic object requires the use of optical aids to see it. It is known as NGC 5286.
C97 Pearl Cluster The Pearl Cluster is an open star cluster, one of many in this part of the sky. It is catalogued as NGC 3766.
C100 λ Centauri Nebula This object (IC 2944) is an open star cluster with an associated emission nebula.
Meteor Shower Radiants
102 ACE α Centaurids This meteor shower is visible from the southern hemisphere in late January and much of February. They were first observed in the late twenthieth century.