Taurus Constellation
taurus constellation
The object near the horns of Taurus is M1, otherwise known as the Crab Nebula.
  • Taurus is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  • In the Northern hemisphere the constellation can be seen through the autumn and winter months.
  • In the Southern hemisphere Taurus can be seen from late spring and throughout the summer, note that it will appear upside down.
  • Taurus is one of the largest constellations in the night sky.
  • Cave paintings suggest that stone age man recognized the constellation as a bull over 10,000 years ago.
  • The red giant Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation, it is over 500 times as luminous as the sun.
  • In Latin taurus means bull.
  • The Crab Nebula and the Pleiades star cluster are located within the boundaries of the constellation.
  • The Taurids meteor shower is named after Taurus as they appear to emanate from the direction of the constellation around mid autumn.
  • Taurus is an ancient constellation based on 3,000 year old Babylonian observations of the night sky.

Taurus Mythology

taurus mythology
The constellation is associated with the bull and is one of the twelve signs of the zodiac.
The constellation of Taurus is associated with Greek mythology. As with many Greek myths it revolves around the amorous attentions of the King of Gods Zeus. This time the focus of his affection was on the beautiful Europa, daughter of King Agenor.
In order to woo his victims Zeus would often turn to disguise and this story is no different. This time he would disguise himself as a beautiful bull and place himself amongst King Agenor’s herd. One day Europa spotted the bull and became mesmerized by its beauty, she approached it and climbed on its back. The bull headed towards the beach but then surprised Europa by leaping into the sea and taking her to the island of Crete. Once there the bull revealed himself as Zeus and proclaimed that she would become his mistress. Europa would eventually have three sons by Zeus, he would later commemorate his conquest by placing the bull in the night sky.

Main Stars and Objects in the Taurus Constellation
taurus constellation
The number next to each star is its apparent magnitude, its brightness from our point of view on Earth, the lower the number the brighter the star in the night sky.
Aldebaran
Also known as Alpha Tauri, Aldebaran is around 65 light years from Earth and is the brightest star in the constellation, it's a red giant star with around 45 times the diameter of our sun.
Elnath
Also known as Beta Tauri, as the star lies on the border of Taurus and Auriga it is sometimes referred to as Gamma Aurigae, Elnath is a blue giant star around 130 light years from Earth.
Crab Nebula
The Crab Nebula otherwise known as M1 is the result of a massive supernova explosion that was witnessed by far eastern astronomers in the 11th century, nebulae which are born in this violent fashion are known as supernova remnants. The Crab Nebula is vast, perhaps around 10 light years across and lies around 6,000 light years from Earth.
Pleiades
Also known as M45 or Seven Sisters, the Pleiades is a star cluster that can be viewed with the naked eye. The cluster is made up of young and extremely bright stars that began forming around 100 million years ago. At a distance of around 400 light years away it is one of the closest star clusters to Earth, the Pleiades contains hundreds of stars and is more than 10 light years across.

Finding Taurus - Northern Hemisphere
finding taurus northern hemisphere
The chart shows the position of Taurus over most of the United States in mid-winter at 6 pm. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Northern hemisphere such as Canada, the UK and Europe. Taurus rises in the east and sets in the west, from October to November the constellation will appear low in the eastern night sky around 10 pm and continue westward until day breaks around 6 to 7 am, in December to January it will first appear in the north-eastern sky around 6 pm before dipping below the horizon in the north-west around 4 to 6 am, from February to March Taurus will first appear almost overhead around 7 pm before disappearing below the horizon between midnight and 2 am.

Finding Taurus - Southern Hemisphere
finding taurus southern hemisphere
The chart shows the position of Taurus over most of Australia in mid summer at 10 pm. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Southern hemisphere such as New Zealand, South Africa and South America. In the Southern hemisphere Taurus rises in the north-east and sets in the north-west, in December and January the constellation will first appear low on the horizon in the north east around 10 pm and continue westwards before dipping below the horizon around 6 am, from February to March it will appear in a more northerly or north-westerly direction as night falls between 9 and 10 pm and disappear below the horizon between 1 am and 2 am.


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