Centaurus is a vast constellation, beginning well to the north and finishing very far to the south.
The constellation lies in a rich region of the Milky Way, making it even more of a pleasure to visit.
The brightest star in Centaurus, alpha, is really a combination of two very bright stars, with magnitudes 0.14 and 1.2. Not only amongst the brightest in the heavens, the two are also the closest to the Solar System at 4.4 light years away. Only its distant companion, the very dim Proxima Centauri, is closer at 4.22 light years.
The two stars alpha and beta (Rigil Kentaurus and Hadar) are the Pointer Stars which show the way to the Southern Cross.
Centaurus has a wealth of material to enjoy, with binoculars and large telescope, something for everybody: the finest globular cluster in the heavens, a semi-regular variable which reaches naked-eye visibility every three months, and hundreds of double stars.
Indeed, this is paradise for binary chasers; out of the hundreds of examples available, we present over a dozen of the more attractive—mostly for telescopes but some are accessible with binoculars.
Click on alpha, beta, gamma, epsilon, zeta, or iota Centauri.