Meet The Neighbors
The Stars Of The
Our "next-door" neighbors reside in the Centaurus constellation.
The closest star to our own sun is Proxima Centauri.
Proxima and our next closest neighbor Rigel Kentaurus form
the triple star system Alpha centauri.Combined they form the fourth brightest "star" in the sky. Although Arcturus is brighter than Rigel Kentaurus.
Alpha centauri is a bright binary star system with the faint
red dwarf star Proxima bound to them by gravity.
Beta Centauri known as Hader is also a bright star in the
southern sky. It is a first magnitude star.
Together, to viewers in the south, alpha and beta centauri
are known as the pointers.
These two stars point to the
southern cross constellation
The mythology of Centaurus is debateable. Centaurs
are half man half horse beings. They are regarded
as wild and uncouth.
One exception was Chiron. He was well cultured
As tutor to Jason and his Argonauts and Hercules
Chiron was placed in the sky as a constellation.
However some believe that the
represents Chiron. If this is true then Centaurus
represents another centaur.
Pholus with the constellation Lupus- which along with
Crux was a part of Centaurus long ago, could form
the myth of the Erymanthian boar one of the
"12 labour of
The Beauty Of The Centaur
Right Ascension: 13 hours
Declination: -50 degrees
Visible between latitudes 30 and -90 degrees
Best seen in May (at 9:00 PM)
rigel kentaurus (Alpha 1 Cen)
hadar [aka agena](Beta Cen)
menkent (Theta Cen)
The beauty of the centaur is in the many viewable
objects for the backyard stargazer.
NGC5139 is the brightest globular cluster and the
largest in the Milky way.
Small telescopes will show stars and larger scopes
will show even more.
Planetary nebula NGC3918 has a small blue-green
disk similar in color to
Open star clusters:
NGC5460, NGC3766, NGC5316, NGC5617.
Elliptical galaxy NGC4945
NGC5128 contains the radio source Centaurus A.
Gamma Centauri is a binary star system with stars of
3.1 and 3.2 magnitude.
A telescope with an aperture of 300mm(12in) is needed
to split the pair and resolve into seperate stars.
Kappa Centauri is a pair of blue-white stars with
a wide separation and can be split and resolved in
These stars are fainter than a lot of Centaurus constellation stars at
only five and six magnitude.
Centaurus is a large constellation bordered by
Hydra to the north
Antlia, Vela and Carina in the west. looking from north
The southern border finds Musca and Crux.
Circinus, visible in the above pictures, is southeast,
and east is Lupus and the
Centaurus constellation to constellation list homepage
constellations and backyard stargazing