Constellation Centaurus (Centaur)

Centaurus: IAU Constellation Map [150]


Centaurus is an expansive constellation with an unusually large number of bright stars and an area of 1060 square degrees, south of Hydra. The center culminates around midnight on April 6th. Between the centaur's hooves is the Southern Cross. [9, 15]

Stars with Proper Names [154]
α1 Cen Rigel Kentaurus, Rigil Kent, Toliman
β Cen Agena, Hadar
θ Cen Menkent
Data for constellation Centaurus [150]
IAU NameCentaurus
IAU GenitiveCentauri
IAU Abbr.Cen
English NameCentaur
Opposition3 April
Season (47° N)March … April
Right Ascension11h 05m 21s … 15h 03m 11s
Declination-64° 41' 45" … -29° 59' 42"
Area1060 deg2
Neighbours (N↻)Hya, Ant, Vel, Car, Mus, Cru, Cir, Lup, Lib

Deep-Sky Object Descriptions


Constellation Centaurus
Constellation Centaurus: Illustration from «Uranometria» by Johann Bayer, copper engraving by Alexander Mair, 1603 [28]

Mythology and History

In Greek mythology, the centaurs were mostly wild hybrid creatures with the upper body of a human being up to the waist, including the body of a horse. The centaur Chiron, on the other hand, was very wise and especially well versed in medicine, music and botany. He was the teacher of Achilles and Asclepius. Chiron was also the protector of many heroes and is said to have "invented" the constellations. He was even transported to heaven after Hercules accidentally hit him with a poisoned arrow (this explanation is sometimes also passed down for Sagittarius, another "heavenly" centaur). In the sky he is supposed to keep King Lykaon (Lupus), who has been transformed into a wolf, at bay.

The constellation was known to the Greeks because, due to the precession of the earth's axis 2000-3000 years ago, it could be fully seen from the Mediterranean, Lower Egypt and the Middle East. [7]


  • [7] «Der grosse Kosmos-Himmelsführer» von Ian Ridpath und Wil Tirion; Kosmos Verlag; ISBN 3-440-05787-9
  • [9] «Drehbare Sternkarte SIRIUS» von H. Suter-Haug; Hallwag-Verlag, Bern
  • [15] «Hartung's Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes» by David Malin and David J. Frew; Melbourne University Press 1995; ISBN 0-522-84553-3
  • [28] «Uranometria omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata aereis laminis expressa» Johann Bayer, Augsburg, 1603; DOI:10.3931/e-rara-309
  • [150] IAU: The Constellations, 11. Oktober 2020;
  • [154] Yale Bright Star Catalog, 15. Oktober 2020;