The constellation Taurus, 1603.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 24cm x 32cm

The constellation Taurus, 1603.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Illustration taken from 'Uranometria' (1603) by Johann Bayer, showing the zodiacal constellation of Taurus (the Bull). German astronomer and lawyer Johann Bayer (1572-1625) invented the system for naming stars using letters from the Greek alphabet, a system still used today for the brighter stars - those visible to the human eye without the aid of a telescope. 'Uranometria' depicts the positions of nearly 1000 stars in addition to those identified by Tycho Brahe. Taurus contains a number of objects of astronomical interest. The red giant star Aldebaran forms the 'eye' of the Bull, and there are two well-known open star clusters, the Hyades and the Pleiades. It also contains the famous Crab Nebula, the remnant of a supernova observed by Chinese astronomers in 1054.

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