The Stars of Taurus
The Hyades is an open star cluster with hundreds of stars that are 500-700 million years old. Their proximity to earth, about 153 light years, means they were discovered centuries ago. In Roman mythology, the Hyades were the five weeping sisters of Hyas, a young hunter who was killed after being hunted down by the prey he was pursuing.
The Pleiades, brighter and farther away, contain blue giant stars that are younger and much more volatile. Astrologers predict that the Pleiades were formed within the past 100 million years, and because of their size and luminosity they could light up the sky with supernova explosions within another 300 million years.
In July 1054, Chinese astronomers witnessed the bright light of an exploding supernova that lit up the night sky and was visible for two years.
The resulting crab nebula is an expanding cloud of stellar debris with a neutron star at its center.
Taurus in History
Chinese astronomers divided the ecliptic into four quadrants, each one represented by an animal; the blue dragon of the east, the red bird of the south, the black turtle of the north, and the white tiger of the west. Each quadrant contains seven “lunar mansions”, twenty-eight in all, usually named after the constellations found within each one.
The constellation of Taurus falls within the seventeenth and eighteenth lunar mansion in the white tiger quadrant. Like the Sumerians, the Chinese associated the constellations with their practical day-to-day lives. They identified the Pleiades star cluster as an animal’s mane or hair, while the other bright stars were associated with a person’s stomach, meaning food and harvested crops.