Featured Deep Sky Objects
Aldebaran / Hyades Star Cluster

Deep Sky Object Chart | El Nath | Lambda Tauri
| NGC 1555 | Crab Nebula | Pleiades
| NGC 1514 | NGC 1647 | NGC 1746

Aldebaran is NOT to be confused with the fictional "Alderaan", ill-fated home planet of Princess Leia in Star Wars. Aldebaran is Taurus's leading star in the sense that it is the brightest luminary therein, and in fact the 13th brightest in the entire sky - but its name is derived from the Arabic "Al Dabaran", meaning 'the follower', as Aldebaran follows the spectacular Pleiades star cluster as they rise in the east on winter evenings. Aldebaran is an orange giant sun, 68 light-years distant, outshining our modest star by a factor of 125. The star is estimated to be 40 times as large as ours as well.

The "V" shaped star cluster seeming to surround Aldebaran is in fact beyond it - lying 130 light -years from us and twice as remote. The alignment is by chance only. Marking the horns of the mythological bull, the Hyades were well known since antiquity, often associated with wet and stormy weather. In mythology, the Hyades were the daughters of Atlas and the half-sisters of the Pleiades (clustered nearby in the sky). Astronomers today pay particular attention to the Hyades because they seem to be one of the nearest star clusters to us in our galaxy. More than 130 member stars are known, spread over a much larger area than just the central group we notice in Taurus; in fact, the outlying members form what is known as the "Taurus Stream", and includes brilliant Capella in Auriga and even Cor Caroli, a springtime star halfway across the sky. The Hyades seem to cover so much territory not because they are especially large, but because we are nearly within them - the "V" is merely the center of this extended stellar family.

Note that Hind's Variable Nebula (described later) is just north of the Hyades.

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