Astronomy Packet: 7
The Constellation Taurus:
Go to http://www.skymaps.com to download a free sky map. Use this map to help you find the constellation Taurus.
In Greek mythology, Taurus is Zeus who took the form of a bull. Zeus turned into a bull so he could kidnap the Phoenician princess Europa.
As you look for Taurus in the nighttime sky, first find Orion. Orion actually shares some of its stars with Taurus, and Orion is much brighter. Betelgeuse actually means armpit. It is the armpit of Taurus. Use Betelgeuse as a guide star to help you find the rest of Taurus.
The Great Nebula:
The Great Nebula, also called M42, is a very bright, very beautiful pink could of gas and dust. It is about 1000 light years from the Earth. Remember that 1 light year equals 6 trillion miles. That means the Great Nebula is 6000 trillion miles away. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have been able to see inside this cloud. They found that it is an active area where new stars are forming. 5 billion years ago our Sun sat inside a cloud just like this one and collected dust and gas until it was large enough to ignite.
You can see the Great Nebula with your naked eye. You just have to know where to look. First, find Orion. Look at his belt, there are three bright stars in a straight line. Now look a little bit lower. There is another line of stars. This line points up and down. Near the bottom of that row of stars you will notice a fuzzy patch. This is the Great Nebula.
Now go get your binoculars. You can see it much better with them. Through a small telescope you can begin to see its pinkish color.
Assignment # 6
Find the constellation Taurus.
Find The Great Nebula.