Tuesday 19 September 2017 - 08:06:04 Posted by  Bobby

 Mythology of Centaurus

Centaurus is a large constellation in the southern Milky Way that depicts a centaur, the mythical beast with legs of a horse and the upper body of a man. In Greek mythology, this centaur is identified as Chiron, tutor to the offspring of the gods. Its brightest star, Alpha Centauri, is the third brightest in the sky. A line drawn between Alpha and Beta Centauri points to the Southern Cross, Crux.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: The Centaur
  • Pronounced: sen-TOR-us
  • Genitive: Centauri
  • Abbreviation: Cen
  • Highest in the Sky: April to June
  • Size Ranking: 9th
  • Coverage Area: 1,060 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 13 Hours
  • Declination: -50°
  • Visibility: 22°N to 90°S

 Notable Objects

  • Alpha Centauri: Star system
  • NGC 4945: Barred spiral galaxy
  • NGC 5128: Centaurus A
  • NGC 5139: Omega Centauri

 Named Stars

  • Rigle Kentaurus, Alpha Centauri
  • Hadar, Beta Centauri
  • Menkent, Theta Centauri

 Best Viewed Objects/Stars

Alpha Centauri (Rigil Kentaurus)

 A nearby multiple star. To the naked eye, it appears of magnitude -0.3, the third brightest star in the sky. A small telescope shows it to be a glourious binary, consisting of two yellow and orange stars of magnitudes 0.0 and 1.4. They orbit each other every 80 years, so one complete orbit can just be followed in a human lifetime. Lying 2 degrees away from this pair is a much fainter third star, an 11th magnitude red dwarf called Proxima Centauri. This is the closest star to the Sun, 4.2 light-years away, about 0.2 light years closer to us than the two brighter members of the Alpha Centauri system.

Beta Centauri

 A blue-white giant star, magnitude 0.6 and 11th brightest in the sky, about 525 light-years away.

NGC 5139 (Omega Centauri)

 The largest and brightest globular cluster in the sky, about 17,000 light-years away. Seen with the naked eye or binoculars, it appears as a hazy 4th magnitude patch larger than the full Moon. A small telescope shows its main stars.

NGC 3718 (The Blue Planetary)

 A planetary nebula, visible through a small telescope as a rounded blue disk.

NGC 5128 (Centaurus A)

 An unusual galaxy. With a small telescope, it looks like an elliptical galaxy, but larger apertures and long-exposure photographs show that it is bisected by a dark dust lane, evidently due to a merger with another galaxy. It is a strong radio source, referred to as Centaurus A.


 Where to?

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