Taurus is one of the most well-known constellations in the sky because it is one of the twelve zodiac constellations. It was also one of the original 48 constellations that Greek astronomers cataloged and used in their myths and stories.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the constellation of Taurus.
Table of Contents
- Common questions
- Taurus fact sheet
- Interesting facts about Taurus
- Stars in Taurus
- Asterisms: Hyades and the Pleiades
- Learn More
What are the zodiac constellations?
The zodiac is an imaginary circle of constellations that are sort of lined up in the sky with the orbit Earth follows around the Sun.
Ancient civilizations considered these constellations to be important and integrated them into their culture.
If you were born between April 21 and May 21, the Greeks believed you had been born under the Taurus “sign”.
Where does the name Taurus come from?
Taurus was named after the Greek word for bull, ταύρος (pronounced taavros). It was named like that because when you connect the stars that form it, it looks like the head and torso of a charging bull.
Who discovered Taurus and when was it discovered?
Constellations have formed part of the night sky for millions of years and they have been visible to everyone since the beginnings of mankind. Because of this, it is not really possible to say someone “discovered” the constellation as it was never hidden.
How many stars does Taurus have?
Taurus is formed by 19 main stars that are visible without the help of a telescope. If you look at it with a telescope, more stars inside it become visible, and 132 of them have been named and categorized. Some others have only been recently found.
In total, 248 stars have been currently found in Taurus, but as our technology improves, we will probably discover a lot more in the future.
When is Taurus visible in the sky?
If you are in North America or Europe, Taurus will be visible to you most of the year. It only hides behind the Sun from May to July.
November to January are the best months to observe it.
Taurus Fact Sheet
|Name origin||The Bull|
|Brightest Star||Aldebaran (also named Alpha Tau)|
|Stars with planets||9|
|Area||797 square degrees|
Interesting Facts about the Taurus constellation
Taurus is one of the coolest constellations in the sky. If you are looking to find some facts about it and all the stars it contains, here’s a list you can use:
- The best month to watch Taurus is January when it is easier to locate it in the sky.
- Taurus can’t be seen between the months of May to July when it is positioned behind the Sun.
- The brightest star in Taurus is named Aldebaran. It was named like that after the Arabic word for follower because if you look at this star for a few days, it seems like it is following a group of stars named The Pleiades.
- Speaking of the Pleiades, these famous group of stars, also known as the seven sisters forms part of Taurus. More on this later.
- Aldebaran is in the top 15 of the brightest stars in the sky.
- Even though Aldebaran is 44 times bigger than our Sun, its surface is colder than our star’s surface.
- Aldebaran is also named Alpha Tau. This is its official scientific name. The Alpha part means it is the brightest star in the constellation as the letter alpha is the first in the Greek alphabet.
- Every year during the month of November a meteor shower occurs inside the borders of Taurus. Because of this, it has been named as the Taurids. Meteor showers are created by passing comets, you can learn more about them in our article about comets.
- A second meteor shower occurs in Taurus around June. These are called the Beta Taurids. Unfortunately, these aren’t visible from Earth because as we mentioned earlier, Taurus is hidden from us behind the Sun during that month. Scientists have managed to “see” these using radio signals.
- The “horns” of the bull in Taurus are formed by the stars Beta Tauri and Zeta Tauri.
- A giant cluster of gas called the Crab Nebula is located close to the star Zeta Tauri. These are gas remnants of a star that exploded very recently in what is called a Supernova. This explosion was so powerful that it was seen from Earth even during daylight. It occurred on July 4, 1054 and historical texts in China as well as cave paintings in New Mexico mention the event.
- Astronomers believe the stars that form Taurus have been associated with a bull since before the Greek civilization. Even as far as 15,000 BC depictions of the constellation have been found in cave paintings in France.
- The space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972, is traveling in the direction of Taurus. Sadly, it will not get near any of its stars for hundreds of thousands of years end even when it does, it will no longer be able to communicate with us as its battery will be discharged by then.
- If you travel to a country in the southern hemisphere like Australia or Brasil, you will be able to see Taurus in the spring, however, it will look upside down in relation to what you would see in the U.S. or Europe
List of Stars in Taurus
The most recognizable star in Taurus is Aldebaran. It is the 14th brightest star in the sky so it’s usually easy to find.
The shape of the constellation is formed by 19 main stars, but 248 stars in total are located in the are of the constellation. Most of them have only been discovered recently by using advanced imaging techniques and high powered telescopes so it is not possible to observe them with just your eyes.
The following table list Taurus’ main stars and some of their characteristics. The stars in a constellation are not similar between each other as they can be light-years apart from each other.
|Name||Alternative Name||Type of star||Distance (light-years)||Magnitude|
|Aldebaran||Alpha Tauri||Red giant||65||0.87|
|Beta Tauri||Elnath||B7 giant||131||1.65|
|Alcyone A||Eta Tauri||Binary star||368||2.85|
|Zeta Tauri||Tianguan||Binary star||417||2.97|
|Theta Tauri||Chamukuy||Binary star||149||3.4|
|Lambda Tauri||Sadr al Tauri||Triple star||370||3.41|
|Epsilon Tauri||Ain||Orange giant||155||3.53|
|Omicron Tauri||Binary star||211||3.61|
|Atlas A||27 Tauri||Triple star||380||3.62|
|Gamma Tauri||Prima Hyadum||Binary star||154||3.65|
|Electra||17 Tauri||Blue-white giant||370||3.72|
|Xi Tauri||Quadruple star||222||3.73|
|Delta Tauri||Triple star||153||3.77|
|Maia||20 Tauri||Blue giant||360||3.87|
The following video shows a 3D view of the main stars in Taurus. It really helps visualize how the constellation is formed.
Taurus is one of the few constellations that has kept the same name since the beginnings of civilization and across cultures. A cave painting in Lascaux, France from the year 15,000 BC already has it represented as a bull.
In Babylonian mythology, there is a very famous poem called the Epic of Gilgamesh. In this story, the Babylonian goddess of love, Ishtar, sends the bull in the sky to attack Gilgamesh.
In Egyptian mythology, the constellation was also depicted as a bull and it even formed part of their own version of the zodiac.
In Greek Mythology, the bull is associated with two separate stories. First, it is associated with the god Zeus, who transforms into a white bull. Other people associate it with the bull in the story of Heracles (Hercules).
Asterisms: Hyades and The Pleiades
An asterism is a common name for a group of stars that isn’t officially recognized as a constellation. The most famous asterisms are the big dipper and the norther cross which form part of the Ursa Major and Cygnus constellations respectively.
Taurus contains two asterisms called Hyades and The Pleiades.
The Hyades is the small triangle formed by the beginning of Taurus’s “horns”. In Greek mythology, it represents a group of nymphs (female spirits) that included the daughters of the titan Atlas.
It is formed mainly by the stars: Zeta-1 Tauri, Gamma Tauri, Delta-1 Tauri, Epsilon Tauri, and Theta Tauri although many other minor stars are located inside it.
The Pleiades is a more known asterism formed by seven stars that are located very close to each other. You can find them on what would be the Bull’s back in Taurus.
In the Pleiades myth, they are seven girls who are companions to the goddess Artemis. They are named Maia, Electra, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope. To this day, the stars that represent Maia, Electra, and Alcyone still carry their names.
Celebrities born under the sign of Taurus
- Queen Elizabeth II – April 21
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan – April 22
- Amber Heard – April 22
- John Cena – April 23
- Katherine Langford – April 29
- Gal Gadot – April 30
- Adele – May 5
- George Clooney – May 6
- Robert Pattinson – May 13
Where to Learn More
You can read more details about Taurus myth at greekmythology.net
If you want to look at Taurus in the sky yourself, we have an article on how to find it easily.