Constellation of the Month: Taurus the Bull

David Baumgartner writes about what to look for when searching for Taurus in the night sky.

This article was contributed by resident David Baumgartner as part of a local series on astronomy.

The constellation Orion stands proudly in the winter sky, one of the best known groups of stars in the heavens, doing what he did best: fighting the wild animals. But what he liked the most was fighting wild bulls. Orion is the hunter’s name. But Taurus just means “bull” in Greek.

The bull is charging down on Orion from up to the right. Actually what you see is the bull’s head. A triangle of stars represents his face. This triangular cluster is also called the Hyades Cluster. You’ll notice that one star is much brighter than the others, and reddish. So we can think of it as the bull’s angry blood shot eye. Its name is Aldebaran.  

The bull has two very long horns, which may be difficult to see at first, because each is marked only by one star, at its tip. The horns together with the triangle of the Hyades make as shape like a capital A lying on its side. 

We don’t have many Messier objects in this area, but the ones that are here are very formidable. One has to agree that the most outstanding Messier in Taurus is his very first one cataloged by Messier, M1, the “Crab Nebula.” The Crab is the remains of a cataclysmic stellar explosion that occurred in our own Milky Way galaxy in A.D. 1054. So powerful was the blast that Chinese sky-watchers described it as a “guest star” in the annals of the Sung dynasty. It shined as bright as Venus in the daytime sky, appeared reddish white, and was observed for 23 days.  

So if the skies ever clear up again give the raging bull a look through your telescope. It may be hard to find M1, but don’t take any bull from anyone, go out and be the first of your friends to find it, and then give them some bull. I’m sorry, that was pretty bad.

Clear skies.

What’s up the rest of this month?

Feb. 17: Moon passes 3° south of Uranus

Feb. 18: Moon is at apogee (251,324 miles from Earth)

Feb. 18: Moon passes 4° south of Mars

Feb. 19: First Quarter Moon

Feb. 27: Full Moon


David Baumgartner

I am a local fella. Local schools from Fremont, Sacred Heart, Santa Anita, Hollister High, to San Benito Jr. College (Now Gavilan). Then joined the US Air Force where I specialized in Airborne Radar. Married my high school sweetheart JoAnne., shortly after three children arrived; Cindi, Michael, and Lisa. Somehow we ended up with nine Grandchildren.  Went on to San Luis Obispo, Questa, Colleges, and on to Univ. of New Mexico. Came back to Hollister. Opened up Three Pet Stores; Dave's Aquarium Pets & Supplies in SLO, Watsonville, and Hollister. The family spent two and a half years running a ranch up in Oregon. Made our way back to Hollister.  Got my Real Estate License in 1982, opened my own office in 93'. In the mean time raised Swans and revitalized my old hobby of Astronomy.  In 2001 I was named Chamber of Commence Man of the Year. I think I was the only one nominated. I don't care, I'm taking it. In December of 2018 I retired. Not sure if I was forced out or not. None the less, I am retired and I think it was time. Now the last thing I have to do is buy a coffin. I hear COSCO sells them now. But the only drawback is; you have to buy them in lots of six.  I guess I could buy them for the whole family. Not that funny, but thrifty.