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Taurus (constellation)

From Academic Kids

Taurus is one of the constellations of the zodiac, and its name is Latin for 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.

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Notable features

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.

Mythology

In Greek mythology, this corresponds with the bull-form Zeus took in order to win Europa, a mythical Phoenician princess, and thus the father of the Minotaur. As such, since it is necessary to traverse the area of sky known as the Sea to reach it when passing through the Zodiac, it forms the origin of the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles.

Astrology

The Western astrological sign Taurus of the tropical zodiac (April 20 - May 20) differs from the astronomical constellation and the Hindu astrological sign of the sidereal zodiac (May 14 - June 19).

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. It is the domicile of Venus and the exaltation of the Moon. 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.

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