Taurus

Taurus [Lat., = the bull], in astronomy, constellation NW of Orion and lying on the ecliptic (the sun's apparent path through the heavens) between Gemini and Aries; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Taurus is traditionally depicted as the forepart of a bull, in reference to the Greek legend in which Zeus either assumed the form of a bull himself or sent the bull to carry Europa over the sea to Crete. The constellation contains the bright stars Elnath (Beta Tauri) and Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri), long used in navigation. A line extended through and slightly up from Orion's belt will strike Aldebaran. Two notable star clusters, the Pleiades and the Hyades, are found in Taurus, which also includes a number of double stars (observable with small telescopes) and the Crab Nebula (M1). Taurus reaches its highest point in the evening sky in January.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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