The Centaur

Abbreviation: Cen
Genitive: Centauri

The constellation of Centaurus

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.

Notable Features

Designation Name Description
α Cen A Rigil Kentaurus This is a first magnitude star and the closest one to the Sun.
β Cen Hadar This is another first magnitude star in this constellation.
γ Cen Muhlifain The name of the star is not officially recognised by the IAU.
θ Cen Menkent
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.
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.
C84 A globular cluster, this extragalactic object requires the use of optical aids to see it.
C97 Pearl Cluster The Pearl Cluster is an open star cluster, one of many in this part of the sky.
C100 λ Centauri Nebula This object is an open star cluster with an associated emission nebula.