* Taurus is a zodiacal constellation visible in Northern skies from November to March. Its name is Latin for bull and in astrology the Sun enters Taurus between April 20th to May 21st.
* Taurus is located westward (or right) of the constellation Orion, and is depicted as a snorting bull charging the giant hunter from Greek mythology. However, there are no references to such a battle in the myth of Orion and the constellation Taurus actually originated with the Sumerians, who saw it as the Bull of Heaven sent to punish their great hero Gilgamesh (URU AN-NA).
* Within Taurus is a “V” shaped open star cluster known as the Hyades, representing the Bull’s face. Its name derives from the Greek ‘to rain’ as their reappearance in the night sky coincided with the start of the winter rains. They are around 150 light-years distant and consist of 6 stars, the most important of which is Aldebaran (alpha Tauri). This giant orange star 65 light years distant is 38 times the mass of our Sun and forms the eye of the bull in Taurus.
* The constellation Taurus also contains the unmistakable grouping of stars called the Pleiades (M45). This 400 light years distant star cluster were known to the ancient Greeks as the 7 sisters and have been associated with a multitude of myths the world over. Although just seven of these young blue stars can be seen with the naked eye, it is estimated that this cluster actually contains up to 1,000 stars. The famous 16,500 year-old map on a cave wall at Lascaux in France is even believed to depict the constellation Taurus and the Pleiades.
* The Taurus constellation contains many other interesting objects, including the Crab Nebula (M1). This night sky object is about 6,500 light-years away and is actually the remnants of a supernova explosion, which was seen from Earth in 1054 BCE. At its peak the supernova attained a magnitude of -4, but now is of magnitude 8.4 and can only be seen through a telescope.
Mythology Of Taurus
In one version, Taurus represents the beautiful white bull the Greek god Zeus transformed himself into in order to abduct Europa, princess of Phoenicia. After he revealed himself to her on Crete she gave birth to a son who later became King Minos of Crete. In another legend, Taurus represents the beautiful bull King Minos failed to sacrifice to Zeus who, in punishment, made the king’s wife Queen Pasiphae fall in love with and as a result sire the Minotaur.
The Pleiades were the 7 daughters of the Titan Atlas. They were transformed into stars, one of which, Merope, is invisible out of shame because she married a mortal man, Sysiphus. The Hyades were the 7 sister’s of the Pleiades, who wept so bitterly after the death of their brother, Hyas, that Zeus took compassion on them and took them to the heavens.