- Special Sections
- Public Notices
A bull is guarding the palace, traveling across the sky during New Year’s and is a vessel on earth for the soul of Osiris.
This bull has many stories to tell as it reigns supreme in the early winter sky.
Across the globe, cultures viewing a certain bright star group imagined a bull; however, the beliefs about this bull vary. Therefore, it is an interesting study of history and a notable constellation worth finding.
Taurus is the modern name for the star group, which has its roots in ancient times. In fact, it is one of the oldest named star groups.
The Assyrians saw this star outline as a winged bull that guarded their king’s palace. Taurus represents the Israelites’ golden calf of the idol in the wilderness chronicle.
The Egyptians connected Taurus with Osiris; it was this deity spirit’s earthly dwelling place.
In Scotland, the legend told was that Taurus is a bull that flies across the sky on New Year’s. A person can see Taurus the constellation move across the sky but no real bull, hopefully.
These are only some accounts that start to tell the legend shared by different cultures about this collection of stars.
Taurus is perhaps one of the easiest constellations to see in the sky. During this time of year, it is in the east, and a big letter V guides a stargazer in his or her search for the group.
An extremely obvious letter V represents Taurus’s face. The open part of the V marks his eyes and the bottom of the V marks his nose. Draw a line from his nose out past either eye to find the tip of his horns.
Just above the V is a small group of stars known as the Pleiades. These stars mark the shoulder of the bull. At the bottom of the V, a few stars mark his chest and a few mimic his front legs. This configuration is from the modern day version of Taurus, which is from ancient Greek mythology.
Zeus used the form of a bull when he was trying to seduce Europa. He enticed her to climb upon his back, and then he swam to the island of Crete with her on his back. As he swam, only his upper half was above the sea; therefore, in the sky, the only part of the bull visible is the upper half.
Taurus and Pegasus share this trait; both constellations only have an upper half formed out of stars. Taurus’ position in the sky makes it one of the first winter constellations viewable in the beginning of winter during early evening.
In 4000 BC, the sun was in Taurus during the spring equinox. Hence, long ago, stargazers used Taurus to determine the first day of spring, instead of now where we see it in our winter sky.
The Earth wobbles as it spins, which causes a shift in the way we see the stars. This is called procession. Some 6,000 years later, meaning now, Pisces is the constellation that boosts the spring equinox.
Join the host of stargazers who throughout history searched the heavens to find the bull.
A sky map to find Taurus will be online at www.ingramplanetarium.org. For help finding this constellation and the other winter assemblages of stars, come to Ingram Planetarium, see a show, and learn the winter sky.
Ingram Planetarium has a new show called “Two Pieces of Glass.” The show is about telescopes, so come learn how to use the new telescope you received as a Christmas present.
Mark Jankowski is the plantarium director at Ingram Planetarium. Reach him at email@example.com or by calling 575-0033.