Taurus (Pronounciation:Tore-us, Abbrev:Tau, Latin:Tauri) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Taurus takes up 797.249 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 1.93% of the night sky. Taurus is the 17th largest in terms of size in the night sky.
The constellation name means The Bull . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.
There are 9 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 2219 stars. There are 143 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.
Taurus is a member constellation of the Zodiac grouping, a group of 12 star signs that astrologers use to predict someones future based on their date of birth and which constellation appeared when the Sun set. The Zodiac year may be divided up equally between the twelve signs but when they appear in the night sky no longer conforms to the Zodiac calendar. Taurus is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.
There are 25 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Taurus. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Taurus is 119 Tauri.
There are 2 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are 1 non-Messier deep space objects that are covered on this site and the list is below.
The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.
You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 66.65 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 483.92 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 217.41 light years.
The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.
The nearest star to Earth is Gliese 176 which is roughly about 30.25 Light Years from the Earth. Gliese 176 is also the nearest star in the constellation of Taurus with at least one orbiting exoplanet.
The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 21533 and it is 108721.1 light years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.
The dimmest star that can be seen in Taurus with the naked eye is 129 Tauri. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan.
Aldebaran is not to be confused with Alderaan, the planet that got blown up by the Death Star in the Star Wars films. Aldebaran is an Alpha star and one of the few Alpha stars with a known exoplanet in orbit round it. Alderaan is a large orange star, bigger than our Sun and would extend out to near Mercury.
Its name might imply that it is in the constellation of Cancer, the Crab but the name is the only thing it shares. Between the Crab Nebula and Cancer is Gemini. At the heard of the Crab nebula is a pulsating neutron star (pulsar) which is relatively young in its neutron stage. The explosion that cause the Crab Pulsar was recorded by Chinese Astronomers in 1054 A.D. and was visible during the day and night.
Sometimes this star is spelt as two words El Nath and the rest as one. The star is the largest and most important star closest to the Anti-Centre of the galaxy, the point which if an imaginary laser was shone from the Galactic Centre would be a straight line going through the Sun and itself. Elnath is also shared with the Auriga constellation but it is still known as Elnath and Beta Tauri.
Taurus is not amongst the easiest constellation to find in the night sky but neighbouring constellation Orion is. Both constellations are visible in the northern winter hemisphere. Once you locate Orion's belt, you can locate Taurus which is to the upper right.
Taurus will appear in the winter months alongside Orion. It is easy to view in January in a south easterly direction. If you are able to find Orion then Taurus should be located just above the hunter. As it is a winter constellation, it is easy to view as soon as it gets dark. It can be seen from 6pm onwards.
From April when it starts to get a bit lighter, you will still be able to see Taurus but a little later about 9pm or whenever it gets dark in a westerly direction. During the Summer months, you will have difficulty seeing Taurus until it returns in November when it can easily be seen from 7pm onwards when the clocks have gone back. If you can wait a little later, it should be higher in the sky.
In January and February, Taurus will be above the horizon. Whereas in the northern hemisphere, Orion was below, Orion in the southern hemisphere will be above the constellation. It will disappear in the north west direction. Taurus will reappear in the north east sometime in September, just above the horizon. As the months go on, it will be in a north westerly direction.
As the southern hemisphere will be in summer when Taurus is available, you will need to styay out a little later to be able to see it. If you can wait until 9pm then you should be able to see it in a north-easterly direction. As the night goes on, the constellation will move across the sky in a north westerly direction.
Another story was that Io, a consort of Zeus was disguised as a bull so as not to be spotted by Hera but Hera did see. Hera sent a Gadfly to scare the bull away and it fell into the river. Ian Ridpath
A third story has King Minos asking for a bull from Poseidon to be sacrificed to confirm his rule. When the bull arrived, Minos couldn't bring himself to killing the bull and killed another bull instead, therefore breaking the deal with Poseidon. Poseidon in revenge caused Pasiphae, Minos's wife to full in love with bull and sire a child, the child would be more commonly known as Minotaur. Wiki
The final Taurus mythology resolves around the feats that Hercules was forced to carry out as punishment for killing his wife and child. Hercules was sent to capture the Cretan Bull which was terrorising Minos. Hercules sought and gained permission to capture the bull and take it away.
The constellation contains two famous star clusters, the Pleiades and the Hyades clusters. The Pleiades is probably the more famous but the Hyades are much closer to the Earth. The Pleiades is also known as the Seven Sisters. Both are just about visible as a cloud with the naked eye.
There are 28 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|A2 Taurids||22nd May|
|Daytime Beta Taurids||5 Jun- 17 Jul||28-Jun||Elnath|
|Southern Taurids||Sept 17-Nov 27||Oct. 30-Nov. 7||Ushakaron|
|November Eta Taurids||9th November|
|Northern Taurids||Oct 12-Dec 2||Nov. 4-7|
|omega Taurids||24th November|
|Tau Taurids||26th November|
The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Taurus Star List page.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Aldebaran||Alpha Tauri||66.65||04h 35m 55.20||+16d 30` 35.1||K5III||Orange|
|Elnath||Beta Tauri||133.89||05h 26m 17.50||+28d 36` 28.3||B7III||Blue/White|
|Prima Hyadum||Gamma Tauri||161.55||04h 19m 47.53||+15d 37` 39.7||G8III||Yellow|
|Secunda Hyadum||Delta-1 Tauri||155.61||04h 22m 56.03||+17d 32` 33.3||G8III||Yellow|
|Ain||Epsilon Tauri||146.66||04h 28m 36.93||+19d 10` 49.9||K0III||Orange|
|Tianguan||Zeta Tauri||444.97||05h 37m 38.68||+21d 08` 33.3||B4IIIp||Blue/White|
|Theta 1 Tauri||Theta 1 Tauri||154.36||04h 28m 34.43||+15d 57` 44.0||G7III||Yellow|
|Lambda Tauri||Lambda Tauri||483.92||04h 00m 40.82||+12d 29` 25.4||B3V + A||Blue/White|
|Ushakaron||Xi Tauri||209.08||03h 27m 10.12||+09d 43` 58.0||B9Vn||Blue/White|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||Yes|
|Area||797.249 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||1.93%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||25|
|Meteor Shower Count||28|
|Nearest Star||Gliese 176|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||Gliese 176|
|Largest Star||119 Tauri|
|Dimmest Star||129 Tauri|
|Furthest Star||HIP 21533|
|Bright Star Count||143|
|Hipparcos Star Count||2219|
|Main Star Count||9|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||2|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Perseus|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|Crab Nebula (M1, NGC1952)||Supernova Remnant||4,900 - 8,100||+22:01||05h 34m 5|
|Hyades||Open Star Cluster||153||+15d 52`||4h 27m|
|IC 349||Reflection Nebula||+23 56 28||03 46 21m 3|
|Merope Nebula (NGC1435)||Reflection Nebula||440||+23:47||03h 46h 1|
|NGC 1410||Seyfert 2 Galaxy||-01 17 55||03 41 10m 7|
|NGC 1514||Planetary Nebula||2,200||+30:46:33.47||04h 09h 16m 984|
|Pleiades (M45)||Open Star Cluster||390 - 460||+24:07||03h 47m 0|
|SN 1054||Supernova Remnant||+22 00 52.1758||05 34 31m 93830|
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