hyades star cluster

Location: Nepal
Photo: Jeff’s Journey to the Stars

“Aldebaran is a red giant star, located at 65 light years away and a diameter of 44.2 times of the Sun. Aldebaran positioned in front of the sprawling Hyades star cluster which depicted on the shield of the shield of Achilles according to Homer. The great snow peak with banner clouds is Mount Everest, the top of the world.” - Jeff Dai

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The Hyades

In Greek mythology, the Hyades (Ancient Greek: Ὑάδες, popularly “the rainy ones) are a sisterhood of nymphs that bring rain.

The Hyades were daughters of Atlas and sisters of Hyas in most tellings. The Hyades are sisters to the Pleiades and the Hesperides.

The main myth concerning them is envisioned to account for their collective name and to provide an etiology for their weepy raininess: Hyas was killed in a hunting accident and the Hyades wept from their grief. They were later changed into a cluster of stars, the Hyades, set in the head of Taurus.

The Greeks believed that the heliacal rising and setting of the Hyades star cluster were always attended with rain, hence the association of the Hyades (sisters of Hyas) and the Hyades (daughters of ocean) with the constellation of the Hyades (rainy ones).

The Hyades are also thought to have been the tutors of Dionysus, in some tellings of the latter’s infancy,and as such are equated with the Nysiads, the nymphs who are also believed to have cared for Dionysus, as well as with other reputed nurses of the god — the Lamides, the Dodonides, and the nymphs of Naxos. Some sources relate that they were subject to aging, but Dionysus, to express his gratitude for having raised him, asked Medea to restore their youth.

Launch to Lovejoy : Blasting skyward an Atlas V rocket carrying a U.S. Navy satellite pierces a cloud bank in this starry night scene captured on January 20. On its way to orbit from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, planet Earth, the rocket streaks past brightest star Sirius, as seen from a dark beach at Canaveral National Seashore. Above the alpha star of Canis Major, Orion the Hunter strikes a pose familiar to northern winter skygazers. Above Orion is the V-shaped Hyades star cluster, head of Taurus the Bull, and farther still above Taurus it’s easy to spot the compact Pleiades star cluster. Of course near the top of the frame you’ll find the greenish coma and long tail of Comet Lovejoy, astronomical darling of these January nights. via NASA

M44: The Beehive Cluster

A mere 600 light-years away, M44 is one of the closest star clusters to our solar system. Also known as the Praesepe or the Beehive cluster its stars are young though, about 600 million years old compared to our Sun’s 4.5 billion years. Based on similar ages and motion through space, M44 and the even closer Hyades star cluster in Taurus are thought to have been born together in the same large molecular cloud. An open cluster spanning some 15 light-years, M44 holds 1,000 stars or so and covers about 3 full moons (1.5 degrees) on the sky in the constellation Cancer. Visible to the unaided eye, M44 has been recognized since antiquity. Described as a faint cloud or celestial mist long before being included as the 44th entry in Charles Messier’s 18th century catalog, the cluster was not resolved into its individual stars until telescopes were available. A popular target for modern, binocular-equiped sky gazers, the cluster’s few yellowish tinted, cool, red giants are scattered through the field of its brighter hot blue main sequence stars in this colorful stellar group snapshot.

Image credit & copyright: Bob Franke

The Hunter, the Bull, and Lovejoy : Heading north, Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is putting on its best show for comet watchers now, with moonlight absent from mid-January’s early evening skies. An easy binocular target and just visible to the unaided eye from dark sites, the comet sweeps across the constellation Taurus the Bull in this deep night skyscape. The starry scene was captured just two days ago on January 12, from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, planet Earth. In fact, the head of Taurus formed by the V-shaped Hyades star cluster points toward Lovejoy at the right. The comet’s greenish coma and tail streaming in the anti-sunward direction also seem to have been shot from Orion’s bow. You can spot the familiar stars of the nebula rich constellation of the Hunter on the left, and follow this link to highlight Comet Lovejoy in the wide field of view. via NASA

by any other name: Sun and solar corona passing through Taurus constellation, 31st June 2003.

22 images, about 1 per hour.

Most stars are known by more than one name; have included some alternatives in brackets:

Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri, α Tau) is an orange giant 44 times the size of the Sun, 65 light years away.

Sigma Tauri (σ Tau) is a double star; both components are white dwarfs, 155 ly from the Sun.

Rho Tauri (ρ Tau) is a white dwarf with nearly twice the mass of the Sun, 152 ly away.

Theta Tauri (θ Tau) is another double star but the components, an orange giant and a white giant, are 154 and 150 ly away respectively and the 4 ly separation makes it unlikely they are a binary system. 

Hyadum I (the First Hyad, Gamma Tauri, γ Tau) is a red giant in the Hyades star cluster, 154 ly from Earth. Hyadum I is 85 times brighter than the Sun.

Hyadum II (the Second Hyad, Eudora, Delta Tauri, δ Tau), also identified with the Hyades, actually three separate star systems, two of which are composed of three stars - astronomy can be confusing.

Ain (Oculus Borealis, Epsilon Tauri, ε Tau) is an orange giant 147 ly from the Sun. Ain is derived from the Arabic for “eye”; Oculus is from the Latin (Borealis means “north”, as in Aurora Borealis).

Omega Tauri (ω Tau) is an orange giant 291 ly from the sun

Image credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

Hyades Cluster
Recognized since antiquity and depicted on the shield of Achilles according to Homer, stars of the Hyades cluster form the head of the constellation Taurus the Bull. Their general V-shape is anchored by Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull and by far the constellation’s brightest star. Yellowish in appearance, red giant Aldebaran is not a Hyades cluster member, though. Modern astronomy puts the Hyades cluster 151 light-years away making it the nearest established open star cluster, while Aldebaran lies at less than half that distance, along the same line-of-sight. Along with colorful Hyades stars, this stellar holiday portrait locates Aldebaran just below center, as well as another open star cluster in Taurus, NGC 1647 at the left, some 2,000 light-years or more in the background. Just slide your cursor over the image to identify the stars. The central Hyades stars are spread out over about 15 light-years. Formed some 800 million years ago, the Hyades star cluster may share a common origin with M44 (Praesepe), a naked-eye open star cluster in Cancer, based on M44’s motion through space and remarkably similar age.

Image Credit & Copyright: Jerry Lodriguss (Catching the Light)

Almond blossoms and celestial pair

A blooming almond tree appears in a clear April evening of Balaton Uplands, Hungary. The Moon is in conjunction with Jupiter next to the V figure of Hyades star cluster (constellation Taurus). The Pleiades star cluster appear closer to the horizon and bright star Capella and constellation Auriga is in the middle top.

Image credit & copyright: Tamas Ladanyi