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Taurus, The Bull Constellation Facts and Mythology

Taurus Constellation Star Map

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.

The distance to Taurus is not calculable because all the stars that make up the constellation are at various distances. The best answer for distance to Taurus is to calculate the average distance of the stars.

There are 21 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.

Taurus Star Facts

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.

Gliese 176, Taurus's Nearest Star

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.

HIP 21533, Taurus's Furthest Star

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.

129 Tauri, Taurus's Dimmest Visible Star

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

Aldebaran is not 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.

Crab Pulsar

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.

Elnath

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 Mythology

There are a couple of myths associated with this constellation. One of the myths was that Zeus on another love making adventure disguised himself as a bull so that he could get close to Europa, the daughter of King Agenor. The disguise worked and Europa became pregnant with his children.

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.

Star Clusters

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.

Meteor Showers Radiating from Taurus

There are 33 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.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
Daytime Beta Taurids5 Jun- 17 Jul28-JunElnath
Southern TauridsSept 17-Nov 27Oct. 30-Nov. 7Ushakaron
Northern TauridsOct 12-Dec 2Nov. 4-7  

List of Main Stars in Taurus

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.

NameBayerDistance (Lt.Yr.)Right AscensionDeclinationSpectral TypeColour
AldebaranAlpha Tauri66.6504h 35m 55.20+16d 30` 35.1K5IIIOrange
ElnathBeta Tauri133.8905h 26m 17.50+28d 36` 28.3B7IIIBlue/White
Prima HyadumGamma Tauri161.5504h 19m 47.53+15d 37` 39.7G8IIIYellow
Secunda HyadumDelta-1 Tauri155.6104h 22m 56.03+17d 32` 33.3G8IIIYellow
AinEpsilon Tauri146.6604h 28m 36.93+19d 10` 49.9K0IIIOrange
TianguanZeta Tauri444.9705h 37m 38.68+21d 08` 33.3B4IIIpBlue/White
Theta 1 TauriTheta 1 Tauri154.3604h 28m 34.43+15d 57` 44.0G7IIIYellow
Lambda TauriLambda Tauri483.9204h 00m 40.82+12d 29` 25.4B3V + ABlue/White
UshakaronXi Tauri209.0803h 27m 10.12+09d 43` 58.0B9VnBlue/White

Taurus Facts


NameTaurus
AbbreviationTau
Is a Zodiac Sign Yes
Largest Star119 Tauri
Brightest StarAldebaran
Area797.249 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky1.93%
Size Position17th
Hemisphere Equatorial
Site Exoplanet Count21
Meteor Shower Count33
Nearest StarGliese 176
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)Gliese 176
Largest Star119 Tauri
Brightest StarAldebaran
Dimmest Star129 Tauri
Furthest StarHIP 21533
Bright Star Count143
Hipparcos Star Count2219
Main Star Count9
Messier Deep Space Object Count2
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count1
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsPerseus
Aries
Cetus
Eridanus
Orion
Gemini
Auriga

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.



List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Taurus


NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Crab Nebula (M1, NGC1952)Supernova Remnant4.9-8.1 kly+22:0105h 34m 5
HyadesOpen Star Cluster153 Ly+15d 52`4h 27m
Merope Nebula (NGC1435)Reflection Nebula440+23:4703h 46h 1
Pleiades (M45)Open Cluster0.39-0.46 kilo+24:0703h 47m 0


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