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Taurus Constellation: Facts About the Bull

Taurus the Bull is hard to miss as he charges through the northern winter sky as it is one of the most prominent and visible of all of the constellations. The Bull is also one of the oldest documented constellations, with details of the constellation going as far back as the Early Bronze Age.

Locating Taurus the Bull

The Bull passes through the sky from November to March, but is at its most visible in January. It covers 797 square degrees.

  • Right Ascension: 4 hours
  • Declination: 15 degrees
  • Best visible between latitudes 90 degrees and minus 65 degrees

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Bulls' eye

The red giant star Aldebaran (65 light-years), the brightest star in the constellation and the 14th brightest star in the sky, is known as Taurus’ Eye. It is the brightest object in the V-shaped asterism known as Hyades that makes up the bull’s face. The orange-hued star is often described as fiery or bloodshot and glaring at Orion the Hunter, which lies just to its southwest.

No April Fool's: Moon to Hide the Pleiades Saturday
The Pleiades star cluster as seen from midnorthern latitudes on the evening of April 1, 2006.

In addition to Aldebaran, the constellation’s other major star cluster is the Pleiades, which is a cluster of seven stars that rest on the bull’s shoulder. It is said these stars represent the Seven Sisters, daughters of daughters of Atlas and Pleione.

Aldebaran and the Pleiades are visible to the naked eye and are two of the sky’s brightest objects.

In the northwest part of Taurus is the supernova remnant Messier 1, commonly referred to as the Crab Nebula, which is located above the tip of the bull’s bottom horn.

Mythology

When Zeus fell in love with the Phoenician princess Europa, he transformed himself into a white bull with golden horns to whisk her away to Crete.

While Taurus is prominent in Greek mythology, he also plays a role in the mythologies of Ancient Babylon and Egypt.

Taurus, located between the constellations Aries and Gemini, plays a key role in astrology, which is not a science. Taurus is the second sign in the Zodiac and represents those born between April 20 and May 20. The traits of those born under the sign includepracticality and stubborness.

— Kim Ann Zimmermann

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