continued from Starlit Sky: 4. Orion
Last week we saw the Orion or the hunter constellation. Extend the belt of the hunter westwards and you can see a very bright red/orange star. That is the Aldebaran star. It is the Rohini star in the Indian astronomical system.
The Aldebaran is the brightest star of the Taurus constellation.
Just like the Orion, Taurus is also seen in the northern hemisphere from the months of november to april.
Above Aldebaran, you will see 2 more slightly less bright stars, Beta Tauri also called El nath and Zeta Tauri. These three stars put together form the Taurus constellation. This constellation looks like a face of a bull. It is believed that this is the bull that is being hunted by the hunter (orion). Aldebaran is the eye of the bull and other two stars are the two horns of the bull.
Aldebaran is about 65 light years away. It is the 14th brightest star in the night sky. Its brightness is almost 1. Did you know that the planetary exploration probe Pioneer 10 is currently heading in the general direction of the star and will make its way near Aldebaran? But that will take 2 million years from now! Doesn’t that give us an idea of the vastness of the universe? What will our future generations see 2 million years from now? Mind boggles at the thought!!
A little above Beta Tauri is the Crab Nebula, a super nova remnant. It is marked as M1 in the illustration.
A dying red giant star explodes into a supernova at the end of its life time. All the material that is spews out is now ionized gases and dust. It can either become a black hole (collapsing inward with its own gravity, sucking in everything including its own light) or a white dwarf ( accumulate material from a companion star until it reaches a critical mass and undergoes a thermonuclear explosion)
Crab Nebula is a white dwarf. When it had exploded, centuries back, it was visible in day time.
In a year, the Sun appears to move into 12 constellations across the sky. These 12 constellations form the 12 zodiac signs. Taurus is one of the constellations that the Sun moves into.
Now look Aldebaran closely. You will notice a small cluster of stars towards the west. This cluster is called the Hyades.
Look more westwards from Hyades, you can see a cluster of stars all close together. With binoculars you will be able to see a total of 7 stars. This is called Pleiades. It is also called seven sisters.
The brightest among these is called Krithika in the Indian astronomical system.
It is the nearest open star cluster to Earth. The Pleiades is also a part of the Taurus constellation.
to be continued…………………….