Taurus is one of the oldest constellations and is represented by the symbol, bull. Taurus is the second sun sign of the Western zodiac astrology. Taurus is nestled between the constellations Aries and Gemini, and is prominent in the skies of the Northern Hemisphere. The position of the Taurus constellation plays a significant role in astrology.
Taurus constellation was noticed by many cultures of the ancient world. Ancient Babylonians and Sumerians have mentioned about this constellation in their records. The Arabs called this constellation Al Tahur. In Italian, Taurus, the Bull is known as Il-Toro and the French call it Le Taureau, while it is known as Taura and Shor in Persian and Hebrew respectively.
The Taurus constellation comprises two groups of stars called Hyades and Pleiades along with Crab nebula. Hyades, one of the closest open star clusters that belongs to this constellation, makes the head of the bull Taurus.
Pleiades, the other cluster of stars is visible to the naked eye and lies west of this constellation. Crab Nebula, a remnant of supernova (stellar explosion) can be seen in the constellation with the help of a telescope. The ancient Chinese astronomy has made a mention of Crab Nebula in their text.
Mythology of Taurus
#1 According to the Greek mythology, Zeus, the father of the Greek gods fell in love with Europa, the Phoenician princess. She was always guarded by her father's soldiers. Zeus transformed himself into a beautiful white bull with a pair of golden horns and wandered towards her while she was plucking flowers in her garden.
Europa was mesmerized by the beauty of the white bull and made him her pet. They became instant friends. One day, Europa climbed onto the back of the white bull, who making use of the opportunity, carried her away to Crete. After reaching Crete, Zeus revealed himself and later married her. According to Greek mythology, Zeus as a white bull represents the constellation Taurus.
#2 Cerus was a mighty wild bull, which was dreaded by all. It occupied a particular village and destroyed everything in a frenzy. On one such day when he was ruining the beautiful blossoms in the spring, Persephone, the Spring goddess appeared before him and tamed him. He was then more calm and patient, and was able to use all his might more positively.
According to the lores, she came to him every spring, and she rode on his back, bringing to life all the beautiful flowers of the spring. At fall, the goddess goes back to Hades, and at that time, Cerus goes back to the sky as Taurus constellation.
The Star Clusters: Hyades and Pleiades
The cluster of stars of Hyades form the V-shaped face of Taurus the Bull. The Arabs called them as "Little She-camels". The Hyades are associated with rainy season because they are clearly visible during the fall (season), when it rains. In Greek mythology, Hyades are the fives sisters of Atlas. They were also the half-sisters of the Pleiades.
When the wife of Zeus, and the mother of Dionysus died, Zeus appointed the Hyades sisters to take care of his son. Later they were immortalized into stars and placed in the Taurus constellation by Zeus.
Pleiades were seven sisters who were close companions of Artemis (daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo). According to Greek mythology, the Pleiades were the daughters of Atlas and Pleione. They were grief-stricken when their father was given the task of holding the world on his shoulders. Feeling sorry for these girls, Zeus placed them as stars in the Taurus constellation.
In another myth, Orion the hunter fell in love with them. He pursued them constantly. To save them from the hunter, Zeus placed them along with other stars in the Taurus constellation.