Hyades (Collinder 50) & Aldebaran in Taurus
The Head of the Bull
Between the Pleiades and Orion, the head of the magnificent celestial bull, Taurus, shines.
The bull’s bright red-eye Aldebaran is brighter than any other star in the constellation. Around
the red-eye, the bright white stars of Hyades form the rest of the Bull’s face.
The stellar form of the celestial bull is old – older than the ancient Greeks that have given us
the constellation’s name. In Babylonian myth, this massive “Bull of Heaven” was sent to Earth
by none other than the goddess of love and war, Ishtar, for the sole purpose of inflicting a
devastating drought over the lands of Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh, with the help of Enkidu,
saved the day by killing the destructive bull.
The Hyades is an Open Cluster that is so close to Earth that it is spread out over an area
10-times the size of the full moon. Aldebaran is not a member of the cluster and resides
between us and the cluster proper, but the two go well together making the “Head of the Bull”
a Winter spectacle in the night sky.
It is best to observe Aldebaran and the Hyades in binoculars where you can see the whole
star-lit spectacle at once. In the 4.7-degree field-of-view in my 85mm refractor I had to
consolidate four sketches to make this finial drawing.