The sky at night

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The Independent Online
The constellation of Taurus, the Bull, would perhaps be more aptly named "The Bull's Head", since this celestial creature has no stars to represent its rear half. Prominent over the brad of Orion, orange Aldebaran marks the Bull's Eye, while the next two brightest stars, El Nath ("the butting") and Zeta Tauri, are the tips of his fearsome horns, charging straight for Gemini. A sprinkling of stars noticeable around Aldebaran are members of the nearest star cluster to the solar system - the Hyades. Located only 150 light years away, it looks large and scattered compared with more distant clusters. The brightest members form a V-shape visible to the naked eye, roughly on the Bull's nose. Appropriately, the Hyades were the mythological half-sisters of the Pleiades: they shared Atlas as their father. Aldebaran's association with the Hyades is a mere illusion. Though by chance in the same line of sight, it is only half as far away.

Jacqueline Mitton

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