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Centaur southern constellation Centaurus, between the Southern Cross and the Wolf. The main star α Centauri is the closest star to the Earth 4.3 years-light. Between the legs of the Centaur is the Southern Cross.
Centaurus is one of the 88 modern constellations; It was already part of the list of 48 constellations drawn by Ptolemy.
It is one of the brightest constellations and extended in the sky and is visible in full from the southern hemisphere or at low northern latitudes. In this constellation historical times was also fully observable from mid-latitude, to the point that it was perfectly known to both the Greeks to the Romans; because of the precession of the equinoxes, this part of the sky took on more and more southern declinations, and today the regions where it was once seen can be observed only partially. Centaurus contains some record-breaking objects: the star system closest to the sun, the brightest globular cluster in the sky, and the nearest active galaxy to our own. The Centaur is an important southern constellation, of considerable size and very bright and rich, thanks to the presence of some of the stars more bright Scorpius-Centaurus Association, the nearest OB association to the Sun; it is an association made up of stellar blue bright stars with a common origin and that move together through space.
The northern part of the constellation contains the group of stars older association, which is made up of all the easily visible blue stars with the naked eye on the border with the Wolf; the south-western part instead is home to one of the younger groups. The number of Centaurus stars visible to the naked eye in dark skies is really very high, reaching almost two hundred. The nomenclature of its main stars with the Bayer letters system is one of the most complete of all the constellations: the Greek letters, in fact, end with the stars up to magnitude 4, proceeding then with the Latin lower case letters and finally with the case; be noted, however, that some letters are also repeated, as in the case of the triad C1-C2-C3 Centauri.
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