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Posts Tagged ‘Taurus’

02/24/2020 – Ephemeris – Conflict in the skies: Orion vs. Taurus

February 24, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 24th.  Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 6:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:27.  The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:26 this evening.

The classical constellation figures of Orion the hunter and Taurus the bull appear to be interacting in the sky. Orion is in the south at 9 p.m. An angry Taurus, a bit above him in the southwest, appears to be charging at Orion who appears to be facing him with lion skin shield and an upraised club. Orion’s two hunting dogs, canes major and minor, appear to be unconcerned. The face of Taurus the bull is a letter V shape of faint stars with a bright reddish star at the upper left tip of the V called Aldebaran the bull’s angry bloodshot eye. There’s no mythological story that goes with this.  Both Orion and Taurus have their own myths associated with them separate from their apparent clash in the heavens.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Orion vs Taurus

Conflict in the skis: Taurus is charging Orion. Seen at 9 p.m. in late February. Created using Stellarium and the dimming of Betelgeuse in GIMP.

12/16/2019 – Ephemeris – Taurus Treasures

December 16, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, December 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:14. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 9:59 this evening.

Rising in the east-southeast now is the bright star Aldebaran an orange star that’s at one end of the sideways letter V of stars that is the head of Taurus the bull. Above it is the jewel-like Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster. There’s more to Taurus, like it’s freakishly long horns and front part of its body. But you can say you’ve seem Taurus, if you can spot his face. That V of stars is actually a star cluster called the Hyades, the closest to the Earth, and in Greek Myth were the half-sisters of the Pleiades, also fathered by the god Atlas. Both the Hyades and Pleiades are being pursued by Orion, which is below it. He isn’t the only one following the Pleiades, the name Aldebaran means “The Follower”.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

the Hyades, Taurus, Orion and the Pleiades

An animation showing the Hyades, Taurus, Orion and the Pleiades. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Hyades and Pleiades

The Pleiades (right) and the Hyades (left) in this photograph I took January 4, 2016.

 

10/29/2019 – Ephemeris – Finding the Pleiades or Seven Sisters

October 29, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 6:36, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:17. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 7:57 this evening.

A marvelous member of the autumn skies can be found low in the east northeast after 9 in the evening. It is the famous star cluster called the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. I might also add the ‘Tiny Dipper’. Many people can spot a tiny dipper shape in its six or seven stars, and mistake it for the Little Dipper. When I was nearsighted, though corrected, I never had been able to see more than a few stars and a bit of fuzz. However with binoculars, even I can see over a hundred stars appear along with the dipper shape of the brightest. The fuzz I saw was unresolved stars, but in photographs the Pleiades actually contain wisps of the gas they are passing through currently. In Greek mythology the sisters were daughters of the god Atlas.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Pleiades finder animation

Finding the Pleiades animation for 9 p.m. October 29, 2019. The Pleiades is surrounded by constellations I’ve described earlier this year and one yet to be described, Taurus the bull of which the cluster is a part.  The V of stars near the horizon is Taurus’ head and is another star cluster, the Hyades, the half sisters to the Pleiades. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The Pleiades, about what you'd see in binoculars.

The Pleiades, about what you’d see in binoculars, though not as brilliant.  One of my old photographs.  With my 11 inch f/4.5 Dobsonian using a 40mm eyepiece that gives a field of view that encompasses the Pleiades, all I can say is Wow!

Greek Pleiades

The Greek Pleiades a painting by Elihu Vedder in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Public Domain.

01/29/2019 – Ephemeris – The rabbit that got away

January 29, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 5:46, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:04. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:55 tomorrow morning.

Orion, the central winter constellation is seen in the south at 9 p.m. He is a hunter, but he’s preoccupied with the charge of Taurus the bull from the upper right. At Orion’s feet, and unnoticed by him is the small constellation of Lepus the hare. It’s very hard to see a rabbit in its eight dim stars: however, I do see a rabbit’s head ears and shoulders. A misshapen box is the head and face of this critter facing to the left. His ears extend upwards from the upper right star of the box, and the bend forward a bit. Two stars to the right of the box and a bit farther apart hint at the front part of the body. In Lepus telescopes can find M79, a distant globular star cluster, one of the few of these compact star clusters visible in the winter sky.

Addendum

Lepus

An animation showing the stars, constellations and artwork of Lepus, Orion and Taurus. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

My view of Lepus the hare.

My view of Lepus the hare. Star field from Cartes du Ciel. Desert Cottontail drawing from Arizona-Senora Desert Museum website. Superimposed with GIMP.

01/24/2019 – Ephemeris – Taurus the bull

January 24, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, January 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 5:40, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:09. The Moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 10:14 this evening.

Midway up the sky in the southeast at 8 p.m. is the constellation of the giant hunter Orion. Above him, to the right is Taurus the bull. His face is a letter V shape of stars lying on its side, the star cluster Hyades, with the bright orange-red star Aldebaran at one tip of the V as its angry blood-shot eye, but actually about half way between us and the cluster. Orion is depicted in the sky facing, with club in one hand and a shield in the other, the charging Taurus. The Pleiades star cluster is in his shoulder. Taurus in Greek mythology was the form the god Zeus when he carried off the maiden Europa. Europa’s still with him as the intriguing satellite orbiting Zeus’ Roman equivalent the planet Jupiter.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Taurus and Orion

Taurus and Europa at 8 p.m. January 24, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Rape of Europa

The Rape of Europa by Titian. According to the story Zeus as a bull abducted Europa and swam to Crete, where she became the first queen of that island, and bore him three sons. Other paintings of this subject are by Rembrandt and de Troy. This painting belongs to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston, MA. Click on the image to enlarge.

Jupiter's moon Europa

Jupiter’s satellite Europa, slightly smaller than the Earth’s moon, has a fresh ice surface with very little cratering. The ice floats on a deep water ocean supposedly containing more water than all the Earth’s oceans. Click on the image to enlarge. This is a place NASA will send a spacecraft to look for the chemistry of life. Credit NASA/JPL, Ted Stryk.

11/23/2018 – Ephemeris – The Moon and Aldebaran

November 23, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, November 23rd. The Sun will rise at 7:50. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 5:07. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 5:55 this evening.

Tonight’s full Moon will be accompanied by the bright star Aldebaran, the angry red eye of the constellation Taurus the Bull. Earlier this year we had the last of nearly two years of the Moon every month passing in front of Aldebaran. The tilt of the Moon’s orbit with respect to the Earth’s own orbit of the Sun slides slowly westward with time, so The Moon won’t pass in front of Aldebaran for those of us on Earth again until 2033. This sliding of the Moon’s orbit is called regression of the nodes. A node is where the Moon’s orbital plane crosses the Earth’s. These are places eclipses of the Sun and Moon occur if lined up with the full or new moons. Why regression? The nodal points are moving westward, backward of most motions in the solar system.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Full moon with Aldebaran
Tonight’s full moon with Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the bull (8 p.m. November 23, 2018). Created using Stellarium.

11/12/2018 – Ephemeris – Orion is rising

November 12, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Veterans Day Observed, Monday, November 12th. The Sun will rise at 7:35. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 5:17. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 9:25 this evening.

Just after the Moon sets tonight winter’s most dazzling constellation will be rising, Orion the hunter of Greek myth. The stars of his torso are in a rectangle leaning to the left. Orion’s belt of three stars in a straight line in the center of the rectangle is nearly vertical. The Anishinaabe peoples whose region we live in see the constellation of the Wintermaker rather than Orion. It uses Orion’s torso and belt stars, but his arms are spread wide from Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the bull to the west to Procyon in Canis Minor, which won’t rise until 11 p.m. to the east. The Wintermaker’s arms are wide enough to embrace the entire winter sky. Its name in Anishinaabemowin, which is Biboonikeonini, means “North Wind”.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Orion or Wintermaker rising
Take your pick: it’s either Orion rising of the Wintermaker rising at 9:30 p.m. November 12th. Created using Stellarium and GIMP, and Western and Ojibwe star lore.

02/05/2018 – Ephemeris – The rabbit that got away

February 5, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 5th. The Sun will rise at 7:57. It’ll be up for 10 hours even, setting at 5:57. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:06 tomorrow morning.

Orion, the central winter constellation is seen in the south at 9 p.m. He is a hunter, but he’s preoccupied with the charge of Taurus the bull from the upper right. At Orion’s feet, and unnoticed by him is the small constellation of Lepus the hare. It’s very hard to see a rabbit in its dim stars: however, I do see a rabbit’s head ears and shoulders. A misshapen box is the head and face of this critter facing to the left. His ears extend upwards from the upper right star of the box, and the bend forward a bit. Two stars to the right of the box and a bit farther apart hint at the front part of the body. Some see a whole rabbit facing the other way. In Lepus telescopes can find M79, a distant globular star cluster, one of the few in the winter sky.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Lepus animation

Pick your favorite Lepus outline. Cartes du Ciel, Stellarium, or Hallo Northern SKY (with grid lines).

12/15/2017 – Ephemeris – Taurus, Bullish on Winter

December 15, 2017 1 comment

Note:  The title of this post I’ve taken from an article I wrote for the December 1999 issue of the Stellar Sentinel, the monthly newsletter of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, which I will reprint with some tweaks, as the addendum to this post.  Winter will arrive in six days, though I’m not particularly bullish on it, but it fits the constellation I’m talking about today.

Ephemeris for Friday, December 15th. The Sun will rise at 8:12. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:02. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 6:25 tomorrow morning.

Low in the east-southeast at 9 p.m. is the constellation of Orion the giant hunter. Above him is Taurus the bull. His face is a letter V shape of stars lying on its side with the bright orange-red star Aldebaran at the bottom tip of the V as its angry blood-shot eye. Orion is depicted in the sky facing him with club in one hand and a shield in the other the approaching and in some depictions charging Taurus. The V of stars is a star cluster called the Hyades. The Pleiades are in his shoulder above. Taurus, in Greek mythology, was the guise the god Zeus when he carried off the maiden Europa. Europa’s still with him, sort of, as the intriguing satellite with a buried ocean orbiting Zeus’ Roman equivalent the planet Jupiter.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Taurus and Orion

Three views of Taurus the bull and Orion the hunter for about  p.m. in December.

Hyades and Pleiades

The Hyades (lower left) and the Pleiades (upper right). My photograph from many years ago BD (Before Digital).

The first constellation of winter to appear is probably a toss-up between Auriga the charioteer and Taurus the Bull. Auriga never quite disappears, or at least Capella its brightest star is circumpolar and never quite sets here in Northern Michigan. But Auriga sneaks up slowly in the northeast. Taurus on the other hand makes a grand entrance on autumn evenings preceded by the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters star cluster.

Taurus’ brightest star is Aldebaran, the bull’s angry bloodshot eye. It is at the left tip of a letter V of stars that is the bull’s face. Above the V are single stars that form the tips of its very long horns. Other stars below form the front legs of this beast. That’s it. Only the front part of the bull appears in the sky. In its shoulder are the Pleiades.

According to Greek mythology Taurus represents the god Zeus, the Roman Jupiter, who, in the disguise of a bull abducted the beautiful maiden Europa. This isn’t the only celestial disguise of Zeus. Cygnus is the disguise of Zeus in the famous Leda and the swan affair.

The Pleiades and the Hyades, the V-shaped star cluster of Taurus’ head also have their places in Greek Mythology. The Hyades and Pleiades are half sisters of each other who share Atlas as their father. But it is the Pleiades which are more prominent and have more stories about them. It is the Pleiades that are pursued by Orion the hunter, the central constellation of winter. And since the Pleiades are west of Orion it does appear that Orion continues to chase them around and around the sky daily. To the Kiowa Indians the Pleiades were also young maidens. As the story goes they were being chased by a large bear. The Great Spirit placed them on what we know today as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming to keep them out of reach of the bear. It is said that even today the sides of this tower show the scars of the bear’s claws. Devil’s Tower was the prominent landmark in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To the Anishinaabek native peoples around here the Pleiades is the “Hole in the Sky” or the seven sweating stones that are heated for the sweat lodge ceremony.

What do we know about Taurus today? Aldebaran is an orangish giant star which lies at a distance of 65 light years. It doesn’t belong to the Hyades, which is about 151 light years away. Aldebaran’s diameter is 40 times the Sun’s, about the diameter as the orbit of Mercury. It’s only 1.7 times tha mass of the Sun. Aldebaran shines at 153 times the Sun’s output.

Aldebaran appears to be part of the Hyades cluster, but it is less than half the distance to this most important star cluster. Though less prominent as the Pleiades, the Hyades is the most important star cluster in the heavens. The reason is because the Hyades was until recently the only star cluster close enough to get an accurate distance measurement by direct means. That direct means is parallax, measuring the shift of the star’s position in the sky due to the earth’s changing position in orbit of the Sun. The Hipparcos satellite has been refining these parallaxes over the past few years. Its measurement of the distance of the Hyades cluster is 151 light years give or take a bit less than a light year. The Hyades distance is the basis for all more distant measurements to the ends of the known universe.

The Hyades is a good binocular object with over 100 stars visible. The cluster actually overflows the binocular’s field of view. This cluster is also known as the Taurus Moving Cluster because its stars are receding towards a point northeast of Orion’s Betelgeuse.

Of course the splashiest part of Taurus is the Pleiades. For people with good vision 6 or more stars can be seen. I can see 4 or 5 stars and fuzz, which are unresolved stars. Many, who see the Pleiades for the first time, think the tiny pattern of stars is the Little Dipper. The stars do indeed look like a tiny dipper, with a nice bowl and a sawed off handle. And that’s what I call it: the Tiny Dipper. The big surprise of the Hipparcos distance measurements is the distance of the Pleiades. The generally accepted distance was about 410 light years. Hipparcos measured 375 light years. This means that the stars of the Pleiades are somewhat dimmer than believed before. Pleiades prior measurement was based on photometric or brightness measurements with the stars of the Hyades and other stars of the same type and known brightness and distance. So it turns out in the case of the Pleiades that the former measurements weren’t as accurate as thought, and means we have more to understand about stellar evolution as it relates to star brightness. Or perhaps Hipparcos is wrong. And interesting debate and more measurements are sure to follow.

The age of the Pleiades is thought to be around 100 million years, young compared to the Sun’s 4.6 billion years. Long exposure photographs and some telescopes can still spot the remaining wisp’s of the nebulae they were born from. The material is probably dust simply reflecting the light of the stars in the cluster.

Taurus is a great constellation to scan with a pair of binoculars.

11/07/2017 – Ephemeris – The autumn constellations are all visible in the early evening

November 7, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Election Day for some folks, Tuesday, November 7th. The Sun will rise at 7:28. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 5:23. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 8:49 this evening.

We’ll have about an hour and a half of reasonably dark skies between 6:30 and nearly 9 p.m. – At 8 p.m. all the autumn constellations are visible. The Zodiacal constellations from Capricornus in the southwest through Aquarius, Pisces and Aries, all relatively faint to Taurus rising in the east northeast. Pegasus the flying horse is seen in the high south-southeast. It and the connected constellation of Andromeda the chained princess are seen above Aquarius through Aries. The bright star Fomalhaut holds a lonely vigil low in the south, High in the northeast is the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia the queen, under which is Perseus, her son-in-law and hero down to the bright star Capella.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Autumn constellations.

The sky at 8 p.m. November 7, 2017 showing the autumn constellations, centered on the southeastern sky. Click on the image to enlarge. The Milky Way has been brightened to show its passage through Perseus better. The red line is the ecliptic, the path of the Sun through the Zodiac. Created using Stellarium.

Addendum