α Centauri

Alpha Centauri is the closest star to us, or rather stars, for it forms a system comprised of three stars.
     Two of these, the more visible members, are 4.393 light years away. They form a double with an orbit of 79.9 years. The most current values (2012) were 255 and a separation of 5.0".

The dimmest member, Proxima Centauri, is the closest star to the Solar System, 4.221 light years away. This red dwarf has a visual magnitude of 11.1, therefore even with telescopes it's an adventure to find.

The two stars alpha and beta Centauri are known as the Pointer Stars, as they show the direction to the Southern Cross.

There is a delightful double star in the same region, DUNS 159, as well as R Centauri: binoculars.

DUN 159, noted on maps and charts as Δ 159, is a multiple star system:
      AB: 5.0, 7.6; 157, 9.1"
      AC: 5.0, 10.7; 254, 17.5"
      AD: 5.0, 10.7; 8, 43.8"

In the same field of view is R Centauri, a Mira-type variable with an unusually long period which used to be about 547 days but which now is reported to be 502 days. It can achieve naked-eye visibility at its maximum; its reported range is 5.3 to 11.8. The latest maximum as recorded on the AAVSO website is 14 March 2004.

All files associated with The Constellations Web Page are
1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.