Taurus constellation is one of the largest constellations, located in the northern sky. Its name is Latin and could be translated to ‘the bull’. The constellation was first introduced and depicted by the famous Greek astronomer Ptolemy and listed as one of the then-known 48 constellations. Taurus is linked to the myth of Zeus who disguised as a bull so he can abduct Europa. Other cultures and civilizations were familiar with this constellation and the first records of it dating from the Bronze Age. This constellation is known for one of the brightest stars in the night sky – Aldebaran, and many more famous ones like the Pleiades, Alcyone, and El Nath.
Taurus constellation is a member of the Zodiac family of constellations and is symbolized by the bull’s head, ♉. Taurus is now officially recognized and listed as one of the 88 modern-known constellations by the International Astronomical Union.
How to find Taurus constellation in the night sky?
Taurus is the 17th largest constellation in the sky, and it lies in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. The constellation is visible to all observers from both hemispheres and could be seen best at latitudes between +90° and -65°. Taurus is bordered by these constellations: Aries, Auriga, Cetus, Eridanus, Gemini, Orion, and Perseus.
Major stars in Taurus constellation
Taurus constellations contain 5 stars with confirmed planets and are well known for some of them: its Alpha Tauri star Aldebaran, El Nath, the Seven Sisters or Pleiades, T Tauri variable star and the Hyades. This constellation is home of several notable deep sky objects and among them are Messier 1 and Messier 45, the Crystal Ball Nebula, the Merope Nebula, Hind’s Variable Nebula and the colding galaxies NGC 1410 and NGC 1409. There are two meteor showers linked to it – the Beta Taurids, that peaks in June or July, and the Taurids that are happening every year in November. The brightest star of this constellation is Alpha Tauri or Aldebaran – the 13th brightest one in the sky with magnitude 0.85.
Mythology of the Taurus Constellation
Taurus constellation was known a long time before the Ptolemy’s first data of it. It is believed that this constellation marked the Sun’s location during the spring equinox in the Bronze Age. Taurus was known to many cultures and civilizations like Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and Babylonian.
In ancient Greece, this constellation is linked to the story of Zeus and Europa and his transformation to a bull animal so he could abduct the Europa. Europa was the beautiful daughter of King Agenor and Zeus desperately tried to win her over. He was not able to do that, so he disguised a bull and finally won her attention. She sat on his back and the two headed for the sea, all the way to Crete island where he revealed his identity. He treated her like a queen, and the two had 3 sons – one of the king Minos of Crete who later on built a palace known for bull games. Zeus was the one who placed the Taurus constellation in the night sky, to honor him for his service.
Babylonians know this constellation by the name MUL.APIN, or “The Heavenly Bull.”