Twin City Amateur Astronomers
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Taurus is a zodiac constellation that is best visible during the winter months. Taurus lies between Aries and Gemini, south of Auriga and Perseus and northwest of Orion. The constellation is pictured as the head and front legs of a bull. There are two stories that relate to the bull and both involve Jupiter and his love affairs. Europa was the beautiful daughter of King Agenor of Sidon who saw a white bull in her father’s herd. The bull was gentle and Europa climbed on the bull’s back, not realizing the it was Jupiter in disguise. The bull swam all the way to Crete where Europa became the mother of Minos, the future king of Crete. In another story, Jupiter fell in love with Io, the daughter of the River God Inachos. When Juno learned of Jupiter’s affair, she turned Io into a heifer and imprisoned her with the 100-eyed Argus as her jailer. Jupiter sent Mercury to slay Argus and free Io, who was taken to Egypt and returned to human form. The eyes of Argus were memorialized in the constellation Pavo, the Peacock. These stories of Jupiter’s love affairs, along with the story of Callisto, were also the reason that three of the moons of the planet Jupiter are Callisto, Europa and Io. Taurus contains two famous star clusters, the Pleiades and the Hyades. The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione who were changed by Jupiter into doves to escape Orion. The Hyades were the daughters of Atlas and Aethra who brought rain and storms over the drowning death of their brother. The Hyades form the face of Taurus.