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Image and text ©2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images.
In the picture above, north is at the top and the image covers 72.0 x 57.3degrees.
Image centre is 14:10:42.2, -43:23:37 (H:M:S, D:M:S, J2000) Astrometric data from Astrometry.net.
This part of the sky is best seen in the early evening in May-June
Centaurus (the Centaur), is in one of the richest parts of the southern sky. At over 1000 square degrees it is the ninth largest constellation. It represents a centaur in Greek mythology, a half-man half-horse creature (Sagittarius is another). The learned centaur is the legendary inventor of the main constellations. Apart from a sparkling scattering of stars, the constellation also embraces one of the finest globular clusters, omega (ω) Centauri (indicated) and a few degrees north of it NGC 5128, the radio galaxy Centaurus A. Close to α Centauri, the brightest star in the picture and, with β Centauri, one of the Pointers to the Southern Cross, is Proxima Cen. This faint star is not seen in this image, but at 4 light years distant is the closest star to the Sun.
Norma, (originally Norma et Regula, the builder's level and set square) is an insignificant construction compared to the grandeur of Centaurus. Like the adjacent Circinus (the Drawing Compasses), it was invented by Nicolas de Lacaille, who charted the southern sky from South Africa in 1751-2 and felt obliged to fill vacant spaces in the sky with Enlightenment-inspired instruments of science. Circinus, Crux, and have their own pages, as do Lupus and Norma, with alternative constellation stick figures.
The main named stars in Centaurus: (Greek alphabet)
Agena (Hadar, β Cen), Menkent (θ Cen), Muhlifain (γ Cen), Rigil Kent (Toliman, α Cen).
There are no named stars in Norma.
Constellations adjoining Centaurus: Antlia, Circinus, Crux, Hydra, Lupus, Musca, Vela.
Constellations adjoining Lupus: Centaurus, Circinus, Libra, Norma, Scorpius.
Constellations adjoining Norma: Ara, Circinus, Lupus, Scorpius, Triangulum Australe.
Related images (other sources)
AAT 7 NGC 5128, the radio galaxy Centaurus A
UKS 32 NGC 5128, the radio galaxy Centaurus A, wide field
AAT 89 NGC 5193, the globular cluster Omega Centaurii
AAT 101 NGC 4945, a dusty southern spiral galaxy in Centaurus
UKS 38 Proxima Centaurii, the nearest star
AAT 95 NGC 6164-5, a nebula around a hot star in Norma
AAT 27 The annulus of Shapley 1, a planetary nebula
AAT 77 Bok globules in the IC 2944/48 nebula in Centaurus
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