Starwatch: this week observe Taurus, constellation admired for millennia

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A star chart showing the Taurus constellation

This week, explore one of the oldest known constellations. Taurus – the bull of the sky – was first recorded by the Babylonians in 1000 BC. It is local, but other cultures may have associated this constellation with the bull. In the cave network of Lascaux, in France, 17,000-year-old cave art appears to be surrounded by a bull interpretation similar to the stars of Taurus.

Taurus is a zodiacal constellation, which means the sun’s path passes through the sky. Before Taurus in the Zodiac is Aries, the Sheep, and after it is Cancer, the Crab.

The chart shows the outlook for this week from London at 8pm GMT. The brightest star in Taurus is Aldebaran. The name means “bull’s eye” in Arabic. It is a very large red giant star and glows a distinct orange color. A V-shaped cluster of stars marks the rest of the bull’s face. Above the bull’s shoulder sits the star cluster known simply as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters.

Taurus is also visible from the Southern Hemisphere, when it is lowest in the northeastern sky at 11:00 a.m. local time.

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