Magnitude Charts for the Constellation Taurus at 40N
Compare the view of your nighttime sky to the Magnitude Charts below. This will determine the magnitude of the faintest stars that you can see at your location. For printouts to use during your observation, you can use the magnitude charts included in the Activity Guides. For practice, try the Observation Practice quiz! (requires Flash)
Can you find Taurus?
During the first couple of months of the year, Taurus can most easily be found by first locating the two brightest stars in Orion (a constellation which looks like a huge hour glass) and the two brightest stars in Canis Major and Canis Minor (the “dog” stars) that follow Orion. Then head west from the two brightest stars in Orion about the same distance as the separation between the two brightest stars in Orion. There you will find the brightest member in the constellation of Taurus, named Aldebaran, an orange-hued, giant star. Its name derives from al-dabarān, Arabic for “the follower”, probably from the fact that it follows the Pleiades (an open cluster of stars) during the night. Forming the profile of a Bull’s face is a V-shaped asterism of stars called the Hyades, one of the nearest open star clusters. Aldebaran is the bull’s bloodshot eye, which seems to glaring menacingly at the hunter Orion. In the northeastern quadrant of the Taurus constellation lies another open cluster, the Pleiades (M45), one of the best known and easily visible to the naked eye. The seven most prominent stars in this cluster are named the “Seven Sisters”. Astronomers estimate that the cluster has approximately 500-1,000 stars, all of which are around 100 million years old. One fun fact is that during November, the Taurid meteor shower appears to radiate from the general direction of this constellation.
Practice Finding Taurus.
(Images modified from charts provided by Jan Hollan, of the Global Change Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)