Taurus (♉) is one of the constellations of the zodiac, the bull. It sits large and prominent in the winter sky, between Aries to the west and Gemini to the east; to the north lie Perseus and Auriga, to the southwest Orion, and to the southeast Eridanus and Cetus.
One of the few first magnitude stars in the sky, the bright red Aldebaran, sits in the middle of this constellation. The horns of the bull stretch off to the west, marked by Elnath (Beta Tauri, traditionally shared with Auriga) and Zeta Tauri.
Notable deep sky objects
In the east of the constellation lies one of the best known open clusters, easily visible to the eye, the Pleiades.
Behind Aldebaran lie the Hyades, the nearest distinct open star cluster, that with it form a V in the sky marking the bull's head.
Another object, visible in a telescope, is the Crab Nebula (M1), a supernova remnant northeast of Zeta. The explosion, seen on Earth on July 4, 1054, was bright enough to be seen by day. It is mentioned in Chinese history texts and Native American pottery.
In Greek mythology, this corresponds with the bull-form Zeus took in order to win Europa, a Phoenician princess.
The astrological sign Taurus (April 20 - May 20) is associated with the constellation. In some cosmologies, Taurus is associated with the classical element Earth, and thus called an Earth Sign (with Virgo and Capricorn). It is one of the four Fixed signs (along with Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius). Its polar opposite is Scorpio. Its ruling planet is Venus. Each astrological sign is assigned a part of the body, viewed as the seat of its power. Taurus rules the neck and shoulders. The Taurean symbol is the bull. Taurean qualities include an earthy, practical nature, a love of luxury and a devotee of sensuality, strong opinions, and a profound stubbornness.
Last updated: 02-06-2005 22:38:31