Taurus


Taurus


English nameBull

Major
stars
alpha TauriAldebaranmagn. 0,9RA: 04h 35m 55.23sDec: +16 30' 33.8"
beta TauriEl Nathmagn. 1,7RA: 05h 26m 17.51sDec: +28 36' 27.0"
zeta Taurimagn. 3,0RA: 05h 37m 38.68sDec: +21 08' 33.1"
eta TauriAlcyonemagn. 3,0RA: 03h 47m 29.07sDec: +24 06' 18.4"

DescriptionConstellation of the zodiac, through which the Sun transits from the middle of May to the end of June. Placed to the north of Orion, Taurus is rich in interesting objects.

First of all the most shining star, Aldebaran: it is an orange giant that with its magnitude 0,9 is at the thirteenth place among the stars in order of brightness; it is 68 light-years away from us. Among the other stars of the constellation, remarkable are some double stars: theta and kappa Tauri, separable to the naked eye; sigma Tauri, a couple of white stars visible with binoculars; phi and chi Tauri, observable with small telescopes.

The constellation of the Taurus contains two very famous open clusters: the Hyades and the Pleiades. The Hyades are about two hundred stars assembled in a very open group, about 150 light-years away: to the naked eye you can see a dozen of stars of the cluster, disposed in the characteristic V shape, near Aldebaran.

M45The Pleiades, M45, are other two hundreds stars gathered in a more narrow space: to the naked eye you can see at least six of them, the most bright of which is Alcyone, of third magnitude. This cluster, rightly thought the most beautiful of the whole sky, is approximately 415 light-years away from us.

M1Near zeta Tauri there is M1, the remains of the supernova which was seen exploding in 1054 after Christ. It is commonly denominated Crab Nebula, because of its similarity with the crab' nippers: observed with small instruments it looks as a weak nebulosity, while it shows all its beauty in long-exposured photos.


Mythology
and history
Zeus fell in love with Europe, the daughter of the king of Phoenicia. One day he saw the young girl while she was playing on the beach with her maids: changed into a beautiful white bull, the king of the gods appeared among them and he docilely let himself be caressed. Considering that the animal was completely gentle, Europe jumped on his back: but the bull entered the sea and swimming he went quickly out to sea. Zeus led Europe to Crete, where he revealed his true identity and possessed her. And to remember this loving adventure, the king of the gods drew a bull among the stars.

The Hyades represent the nymphs that raised the new-born Dionysus feeding him with milk and honey.
The Pleiades are instead the seven daughters of Atlas and the Oceanid Pleion: Alcyone, Asterope, Celaeno, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta. The stars easily visible to the naked eye are actually only six: Eratostenes affirms that the weakest Pleiad is Merope, since she was the only one to marry a mortal man and therefore she is ashamed of such marriage. The astronomers did't follow this explanation, considering that the weakest Pleiad is Asterope.


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