ζ Tauri

Although Zeta Tauri represents the southern tip of the Horns of Taurus, it doesn't seem to have been given a specific name in antiquity.

Zeta Tauri is a shell star, which means material is being ejected from its surface. This activity seems to be quite chaotic on zeta Tauri, quite violent at times followed by more subdued activity, as seen by studies of its spectrum.
     Like many shell stars zeta Tauri is classified as variable, but one which doesn't change its visual magnitude (2.97) substantially.

In the same field, to the northwest just over one degree, is found the Crab Nebula, Charles Messier's first entry in his catalogue of deep sky objects. In fact, it was this object which triggered Messier into compiling his catalogue, that observers would not confuse such objects for comets.

The Crab Nebula is a remnant of a supernova which occurred in 1054, as recorded by Chinese astronomers in July of that year. The nebula's glow was so bright for 23 days it could be seen during the daytime. Then two years later the Chinese annotator remarked that ‘The guest star has become invisible’. Burnham, who recounts these events, has a lot more to say on the subject.

With an apparent magnitude of 8.4, the nebula is easy to find with binoculars, but it takes a large telescope to see any detail.

Less than a degree east of the nebula is Struve 742, two white stars: 7.1, 7.5; 274º, 4.1".

You probably consider Orion is being far to the south. Yet here, just to the east, is the club held high by Orion as he threatens the bull.
    Centring zeta Tauri then moving one binocular field east brings you to chi1 and chi2 Orionis, the tip of his raised club.


Back to zeta, one binocular field south-southwest and you are in a hodge-podge of 6th- and 7th-magnitude stars, of which the brightest is Struve 730: 6.1, 6.4; 141º, 9.5".

As you will have noted from the binocular field of view, there are no less than five binaries in this one span of five degrees; actually there are six, as 111 is also a binary with very wide companion.

The other five, then, from the north in a clockwise direction:
     Struve 680: 6.2, 9.7; 203º, 8.9".
     Struve 674: 6.8, 9.7; 149º, 10.1".
     Struve 670AB (two blue stars): 7.7, 8.3; 165º, 2.6".
     111 Tau, (S 478), white and pale yellow: 5.1, 8.8; 271º, 106.7".
     h3275: 7.6, 8.2; 21º, 56.3".

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