Winter Preview: The Bull and the Sisters

Welcome to Winter Preview, a series of posts that highlights sights that can be seen in the winter skies.

The constellation of Taurus, the bull, is home to the most famous star cluster in the skies, the Pleiades, also known as the “Seven Sisters” (in Japan, “Subaru”), though most people can only see six stars with the naked eye. The cluster is just barely visible in the city sky; a moonless, dry night helps.

The Pleiades star cluster
The Pleiades (Hubble Telescope image, Digital Sky Survey)

To find it, look for the bright star Aldebaran, the orange star that represents the eye of the bull. The Pleiades are above and to the right of Aldebaran. The cluster might seem to be a bit fuzzy or out of focus at first because you are seeing more than one star.

The Pleiades
The Pleiades (inside the red circle) are above the bright star Aldebaran [Stellarium screenshot]
In late fall and early winter, Aldebaran is in the east a few hours after sunset, less than halfway up the sky from the horizon. By mid-winter, it is high in the southern sky, above the constellation Orion.

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