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The Constellation Centaurus, the Centaur
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Centaurus - The Centaur

Below the stars of Hydra, the sea serpent, and Scorpius, the acorpion, 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, only a little more than 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 hazy spot of 4 minutes of arc. It is one of the closest globular clusters, at only 17,000 light-years away.

According to Greek mythology, it was Centaurus who first fashioned the constellations and taught humans how to read the sky. He placed a picture of himself in the sky to guide the Argonauts on their search for the Golden Fleece.

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