Centaurus Constellation Myths and Facts

Centaurus: The Centaur

Pronunciation: sen-TOR-us
Centaurus. The Centaur
Centaurus as depicted by Johannes Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia (1687). Source image provided by www.RareMaps.com — Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
Centaurus Constellation Profile
Abbreviation: Cen Genitive: Centauri
Origin: Ancient Location: Southern Hemisphere
Best View (North): Spring Best View (South):
Bordering Constellations: Hydra, Antlia, Vela, Carina, Musca, Crux, Circinus, Lupus, Libra

The Myth Behind the Constellation Centaurus

Centaurus, “The Centaur”, is one of two centaurs in the night sky, the other being Sagittarius.  Centaurs are half-man, half-horse beasts known for being ill behaved.  In some Greek myths, Centaurus is Chiron, an extremely wise and intelligent being.  He was a renowned tutor, and he instructed the likes of Hercules, Achilles, Jason, Theseus and Asclepius (see Ophiuchus) from his cave on Mount Pelion.  He taught archery, hunting, medicine, music and prophecy. He was accidently shot in the knee with one of Hercules’ Hydra poisoned arrows during an attack while the two were paying a visit to the centaur Pholous.  The pain from the poison was excruciating and unending, and being immortal he could not die.  Zeus agreed to transfer Chiron’s immortality to Prometheus so he could die and be released from the agony.  When he passed, Zeus placed him amongst the stars.

Centaurus Constellation Points of Interest

Interesting stars and objects.

Bright Stars in Centaurus

These are the stars in Centaurus with a minimum magnitude of 3.0.
Name Bayer Name Magnitude Color Luminosity Distance
Rigel Kent Alpha Centauri -0.27  Yellow-White 1.8 suns 4.36 ly
Hadar Beta Centauri 0.61  Blue-White 79,999 suns 525 ly
Menkent Theta Centauri 2.06  Orange 73 suns 61 ly
Muhlifain Gamma Centauri 2.20  White 95 suns 130 ly
Epsilon Centauri Epsilon Centauri 2.29  Blue-White 4,362 suns 376 ly
Eta Centauri Eta Centauri 2.33  Blue 2,492 suns 308 ly
Alnair Zeta Centauri 2.55  Blue-White 3,817 suns 384 ly
Delta Centauri Delta Centauri 2.58  Blue-White 2,511 suns 395 ly
Iota Centauri Iota Centauri 2.75  White 25 suns 59 ly