Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in Constellation Of the Month |

Taurus is easy to find. It’s chief star, Aldebaran is lined up with Orions belt, Amd is identifiable both because of it’s brightness and because of it’s strong reddish hue, which resembles that of Betelgeux. The constellation abounds in spectacular objects.

Star Visual Magnitude Spectrum Absolute Magnitude Distance (Lt Years)
Aldebaran 0.86 (v) K5 -0.7 68
Alnath 1.65 B7 -3.2 541
Alcyone 2.86 B7 -3.2 541
Ζ ζ 3.07 B2 -4.2 940

The Hyades This distinctive star cluster marks the head of Taurus the Bull. Surrounding the third magnitude star Alcyone. It is one of the closest open clusters, and therefore is large, bright, and easily seen. Binoculars or a rich field telescope shows many bright stars, including the brightest star in Taurus (Aldebaran), which not a true cluster member, but rather a foreground star.

The Pleiades This is another classic open cluster. Easily visible to the naked eye, it yields a beautiful sight in binoculars. It is dipper-shaped, and about 5-7 stars can be seen with the naked eye. The slightest magnification shows about 100 stars in a compact area. Larger instruments show the fine nebulosity surrounding the brighter stars, which is often seen in photographs.

M-1 The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant and shows a flame- shaped nebulosity, which is about 5’by 3’ in extent. It is brighter in the centre, and has ragged or fuzzy edges which suggest its name. This is the object, which started Charles Messier logging non-cometary objects.

NGC 1514 A large, almost 2’ in diameter, planetary nebula with a rather bright central star. This object exhibits the “blinking” effect rather well. That is, direct vision shows only the star well, but averted vision causes the fainter nebulosity to pop into view. Switching between the two causes the star to “blink” on and off.
NGC 1807/1817 These two open clusters fit in the same field of view in a low power eyepiece, offering a very pleasing deep sky double. 1807 is about 8’ in diameter with about 20 stars in a box or X-shape. 1817 is slightly larger, about 10’ in diameter, and composed of about 75 relatively faint stars in a compact grouping reminiscent of NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia. This is a fine sight.

52 (Phi) Tau A very pretty double star, which shows a yellow-white primary and a fainter blue companion.

65,67 Tau These two stars are seen as a wide double star in the viewfinder, but the telescopic view holds a surprise. The two wide stars have two fainter stars directly between them! A very nice view.