The magic of constellation Taurus includes open star clusters
As we move deeper into the skies of autumn, we come across the zodiac sign of Taurus the Bull.
One of the oldest of the traditional zodiac signs, Taurus has been listed in ancient chronicles as early as 3300 BC.
Taurus is a rather large constellation in the night sky, high above the celestial equator and to view in our current skies.
Taurus is the home of two of the nearest open star clusters, the Hyades and the Pleiades.
The Hyades are easy to view with the naked eye on a dark moonless night.
Taurus looks like this in the night sky.
With nearly 800 square degrees of sky, Taurus is a crowd pleaser when it comes to objects of interest.
The Hyades are surrounded by the brightest star in Taurus – Aldebaran, a massive orange star 44 times the radius of our sun.
At a distance of 65 light years from Earth, Aldebaran is a bright light in the sky.
Here is the size difference between Aldebaran and the sun.
The Hyades are an open cluster located some 153 light years from Earth and is the nearest cluster to us.
In mythology, the Hyades were the daughters of Atlas and the sisters of the Pleiades. They make a great sight in a pair of binoculars as they stand out with great definition and color.
The other classic star cluster in Taurus is the most famous of all – the Pleiades.
This is a group of stars which we call an asterism, a tight group of stars which look like a tiny version of the Little Dipper.
The wonder of the Pleiades are seen here.
This amazing star cluster is some 444 light years from Earth and is a young stellar group made up of young hot blue stars.
In mythology, the Pleiades are the daughters of the great Atlas and Pleione.
Taurus is also a great place to view some very distant objects on a dark night. The great Crab Nebula is visible in moderate sized telescopes. This object is the remnant of a stellar explosion which created the nebula.
Observed back on July 4 of 1054 AD, the crab is powered by a very interesting neutron star at the core of the nebula.
This object looks great in the telescope!
This is also the present location of planet Mars as it begins its retrograde motion to the west against the stars.
In addition to these facts, the Taurid meteor streams are active in Taurus in November and may produce many fireballs in your night sky.
More information on how to view the Taurid fireballs.
This is one great constellation to view and learn about in our autumn skies for 2022!
To print your own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.
Podcasts are available here.