All About Taurus Constellation
Taurus, the Bull, is a large constellation of the Zodiac located in the northern hemisphere. Taurus constellation has a V shape, resembling a bull’s head which makes it easy to spot in the sky.
It is one of the 48 constellations listed by Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy in the second century. However, from around 4000 BC to 1700 BC, during the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. This makes Taurus one of the oldest constellations.
Taurus reaches the furthest point of Sun in December and can be spotted during the night. The Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster (M45) can be spotted without optical aid. Between March till July, Taurus disappears behind the Sun’s glare. In ancient times, the Pleiades was also known as the “seven sister,” though only 6 of the stars are visible through naked eye.
Taurus lies north-west of Orion. It is one of the most prominent constellations located in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere.
The coordinates of Taurus are 04h 00m 00s, +15° 00′ 00. It is visible at latitudes between +90° and −65°. Orion and Aries are the neighboring constellations to Taurus.
By Till Credner - Own work: AlltheSky.com
There are various stories about the Taurus constellation in Greek and Babylonian mythologies.
In Mesopotamian mythology, Taurus is the Bull of Heaven who gets into a fight with Enkidu, a close friend of king Gilgamesh. Enkidu slays the bull apart and scatters his parts in the sky. These parts become what we know as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
In Greek mythology, Zeus, the god of sky, takes the form of a beautiful and magnificent white bull to win the affection of Euphora, a Phoenician princess.
Bull sign has also been used in ancient cultures for timekeeping to mark the location of the Sun during Spring Equinox.
Taurus Major Stars
Taurus is 65 light-years from the Sun and is known for its stars Aldebaran, Elnath, and Alcyone.
Aldebaran is the brightest star in the Taurus constellation and it is the 14th brightest star in the sky. Aldebaran gets its name from Arabic word “al Dabarān” meaning "the follower." It is part of a V-shaped group of stars (Hyades) that form the Bull’s face. On the northern part of the Earth, Aldebaran appears primarily in winter and spring.
According to NASA, the Pioneer 10 spacecraft is heading in the direction of Aldebaran and is expected to pass by it in about two million years.
After Aldebaran, Beta Tauri or Elnath is the second brightest star in the Taurus constellation. It lies 134 light years away from Earth. Elnath coordinates are 05h 26m 17.5134s, +28° 36′ 27.494.″ The apparent magnitude (luminosity and distance from Earth) is 1.65.
The name Elnath, El Nath or Alnath originates from the Arabic word word an-naţħ, meaning “the butting,” referring to Bull’s horns as it forms the tip of the Bull’s northern horn.
Elnath has a prominent mercury-manganese (HgMn) presence, even higher than the Sun, although its lower on calcium and magnesium.
Alcyone or Eta Tauri is also one of the brightest stars in the Taurus constellation. Alycone is 440 light years from the Sun and has an apparent magnitude of 2.87.
Alycone gets its name from ancient Greek mythology where Alycone is considered to be one of the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione (Pleiades).
Many cultures have derived various meanings and connotations of the name. In Greek mythology, Alycone means “kingfisher” or `queen who wards off evil (storms).’ In Chinese, it means Hairy Head, Mǎo Xiù liù meaning "the Sixth Star of Hairy Head. The early Arabs called it Al Jauz, the Walnut; Al Jauzah, the Central One.
Alcyone is located in the shoulder blade of the Taurus constellation in the Northern Hemisphere and is visible during November.
Tianguan or Zeta Tauri is also a bright star in the Taurus constellation. It is a binary star and has an apparent magnitude of 3.010. Zeta Tauri represents the Bull's outstretched horn in the constellation.
In Chinese astronomy, Zeta Tauri is called Pinyin, meaning Celestial Gate. Tianguan is bright enough to be visible by naked eye on a clear dark night. It is located 440 light years from the sun and the temperature and luminosity yield a radius 5.2 times that of the Sun.
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Taurus is the second astrological sign in the Zodiac. In astrology, the tropical duration of Taurus is between April 20 and May 20 which means those who are born during these dates fall under the Taurus zodiac. Out of the four zodiac elements (earth, fire, water and air), Taurus belongs to the earth sign or triplicity. Those born under this sign are known to be stubborn, reliable and honest.LEARN MORE ABOUT TAURUS ZODIAC SIGN