This imposing constellation of the zodiac lies between Aries and Gemini. It represents the bull into which the Greek god Zeus transformed himself to abduct Princess Europa of Phoenicia. Zeus then swam to Crete with the princess on his back. The constellation represents the front half of the bull's body - the part visible above the Mediterranean waves. It contains two major star clusters, the Pleiades and Hyades. In mythology, the Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, and the cluster is also known as the Seven Sisters; the Hyades were the daughters of Atlas and Aethra. In the sky, the Hyades cluster marks the bull's face, while the red giant star Aldebaran forms the creature's bloodshot eye. The tips of the bull's horns are marked by Beta and Zeta Tauri, magnitudes 1.7 and 3.0. The Sun passes through Taurus from May 14th to June 21st..
Points of Interest
Alpha Tauri (Aldebaran)
A red giant star that varies irregularly in brightness between magnitudes 0.75 and 0.95. Although it appears to be a member of the Hyades cluster, it is actually much close to us, being 65 light-years away.
M1 (The Crab Nebula)
The remains of a supernova that was seen from Earth in AD 1054. Under excellent conditions it can be found with binoculars or a mall telescope, but a moderate aperture is needed to see it well. It is elliptical in shape, appearing midway in size between the disk of a planet and the full Moon. It lies about 6,500 light-years away.
A wide double star in the Hyades cluster. Observers with good eyesight can divide the two stars with the naked eye. Theta-1 is a yellow giant, magnitude 3.8; Theta-2 is a white giant of magnitude 3.4, the brightest member of the Hyades.
An eclipsing binary star of the same type as Algol. It ranges between magnitudes 3.4 and 3.9 in a cycle lasting under 4 days.