berlin: Sun, stars, and Mercury, photographed by SOHO, 15th June 2014.
1 photo per hour for 24 hours. Mercury is between Earth and the Sun.
“Alnath” is derived from the Arabic النطح (“the butting”, as of the bull, Taurus), also rendered Elnath or El Nath. Since it is the second brightest star in Taurus, it is also known as Beta Tauri (or β Tau). Before the modern borders of the constellations were defined, Alnath was also sometimes considered to be shared with the neighboring constellation of Auriga, earning it yet another designation; Gamma Aurigae (γ Aur).
NGC 1746 is the New General Catalogue number for the loose group of stars seen at far right. At the time of their designation in 1863, the stars were thought to be an open cluster - gravitationally bound and probably sharing an origin. More recent studies show that they are not related, and only appear as a group from Earth’s perspective.
Image credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.