The Constellation Centaurus, the Centaur
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Centaurus - The Centaur

Below the stars of Hydra, the sea serpent, and Scorpius, the scorpion, you can find the half-man, half-horse creature, Centaurus. He faces east holding a lance-like pole which he is using to kill Lupus, the wolf standing in front of him.

Centaurus' brightest star (Alpha Centauri), is called Toliman or Rigel Kentaurus. It's the third brightest star in the sky and the closest star to the Sun. Alpha Centauri is really a triple star: two components form a double star. The third component is a red dwarf, more than 2 degrees away from the bright pair. It is called Proxima Centauri (closest in Centaurus) because, of the three components, it is the closest to Earth, about 4 light-years away.

Centaurus is home to Omega Centauri (NGC 5139), the brightest and largest globular cluster in the sky. It is visible to the naked eye as a faint smudge. It is one of the closest globular clusters to Earth and contains more than a million stars.

According to a Greek myth, it was Centaurus who first grouped the stars into constellations. He also taught humans how to read the sky. Centaurus placed a picture of himself in the sky to guide a group of sailors called the Argonauts.

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