Centaurus: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of stars in Centaurus
Abbreviation Cen
Genitive Centauri
Pronunciation /sɛnˈtɔrəs/, genitive /sɛnˈtɔraɪ/
Symbolism the Centaur
Right ascension 13 h
Declination −50°
Family Hercules
Quadrant SQ3
Area 1060 sq. deg. (9th)
Main stars 11
Stars with
known planets
Stars brighter than 3m 10
Stars within 10 pc (32.6 ly) 8
Brightest star α1 Cen (−0.01m)
Nearest star Proxima Centauri (α Cen C)
(4.24 ly, 1.30 pc)
Messier objects 0
Meteor showers Alpha Centaurids
Omicron Centaurids
Theta Centaurids
Libra (corner)
Visible at latitudes between +25° and −90°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of May.

Centaurus is a bright constellation in the southern sky. One of the largest constellations in the sky, Centaurus was included among the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations.


Notable features



Centaurus contains the Alpha Centauri system, a triple star system consisting of a bright binary star to which the much fainter red dwarf Proxima Centauri is gravitationally bound; Proxima is the nearest known star to the Sun.

In addition to Alpha Centauri, the 4th brightest star in the sky, a second first magnitude star, Hadar, is part of Centaurus.

One of the stars in Centaurus (BPM 37093) is a white dwarf whose carbon atoms are thought to have formed a crystalline structure. Since diamond also consists of carbon arranged in a crystalline lattice (though of a different configuration), scientists have nicknamed this star "Lucy" after the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."[1]

Deep sky objects

Centaurus contains ω Centauri (NGC 5139) which, despite being the constellation's "omega" listing, is the brightest globular cluster and largest of its kind in the Milky Way.

The nearby lenticular galaxy, radio source Centaurus A (NGC 5128) and Galaxy ESO 325-G004 is located in the area of Centaurus.


Mentioned by Eudoxus in the 4th century BCE and Aratus in the 3rd century BCE, Centaurus is an ancient constellation. Large as it is now, in earliest times it was even larger, as the constellation Lupus was a sectional asterism within Centaurus as an unspecified animal considered to be either in the centaur's grasp or impaled on its spear. The Southern Cross, which now is pictured as overlaying the centaur's lower hind legs, was also originally a mere asterism formed of the stars composing those legs. Additionally, what is now the minor constellation Circinus was then just random stars under the centaur's front hooves. In the 1st century AD, Ptolemy catalogued thirty-seven stars in Centaurus.

While Centaurus now has a high southern latitude, at the dawn of civilization it was an equatorial constellation. Precession has been slowly shifting it southward for millennia, and it is now close to its maximal southern declination. Thousands of years from now it will, once again, be at lower latitudes and be visible worldwide.


Centaurus has traditionally been identified as a centaur, a mythological creature, half man, half horse. According to the Roman poet Ovid (Fasti v.379), the constellation honors the centaur Chiron, who was tutor to many of the earlier Greek heroes including Heracles (Hercules), Theseus, and Jason, the leader of the Argonauts. However, most authorities consider Sagittarius to be the civilized Chiron, while Centaurus represents a more uncouth member of the species.


  1. ^ "Discovery of largest known diamond". AZoM. February 15, 2004. http://www.azom.com/news.asp?newsID=993. Retrieved 2008-12-04.  

External links

Coordinates: Sky map 13h 00m 00s, −50° 00′ 00″

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CENTAURUS (" THE CENTAUR "), in astronomy, a constellation of the southern hemisphere, mentioned by Eudoxus (4th century B.C.) and Aratus (3rd century B.C.), Ptolemy catalogued thirty-seven stars in it. a-Centauri is a splendid binary star. Its components are of the 1st magnitude, and revolve in a period of eighty-one years; and since its parallax is o 75", it is the nearest star to the earth; w-Centauri, the finest globular starcluster in the heavens, consists of about 6000 stars in a space of about 20' diameter, of which about 125 variables have been examined. Nova Centauri, a " new " star, was discovered in 1895 by Mrs Fleming in photographs taken at Harvard.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also centaurus



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Latin centaurus < Ancient Greek κένταυρος (kentauros), centaur).

Proper noun




  1. (astronomy) A spring constellation of the northern sky (and autumn of the southern sky) with the outline of a centaur. It includes the stars Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri.

Derived terms



Proper noun

Centaurus m.
Centaur stem
declension pattern chlap
  1. the constellation Centaurus


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