The Hyades is a very large loose naked eye open cluster located in the constellation of Taurus. It spans 5.5 degrees of sky, which is equivalent to 11 times the diameter of the full Moon. At a distance of 153 light-years this is the nearest open cluster - the Ursa Major Moving Group is closer, but's extremely scattered and more of a cluster like object than a true cluster. Consequently, the Hyades is one of the top studied open clusters of all.

The Hyades is easily found as it circles the brightest star in Taurus, first magnitude orange giant star Aldebaran (α Tau - mag. +0.87). It's not unreasonable to assume that Aldebaran is also a member of the Hyades. However, it's purely a foreground star, an interloper located only 65 light-years distant that happens to be in the same line of sight. As a naked-eye object, the Hyades have been known since prehistoric times.

The cluster is best seen from northern latitudes during the months of November, December and January.

C41 - The Hyades Open Cluster (credit:- Todd Vance)

Finder Chart for C41 - The Hyades (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for C41 - The Hyades - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

To the naked eye, at least 20 stars can be seen arranged in a "V" construction with the number rising to above 100 with good quality binoculars. This package of stars displays many nice colours, including several fine double stars. Due to its large apparent size, this is a perfect binocular cluster. The brightest component stars are theta2 Tauri (θ2 Tau - mag. +3.4), epsilon Tauri (ε Tau - mag. +3.5), gamma Tauri (γ - mag. +3.7), delta1 Tauri (δ1 Tau - mag. +3.8) and theta1 Tauri (θ1 Tau - mag. +3.8). In total, it contains at least 200 stars and is estimated to be 625 million years old.

Located 12 degrees northwest of the Hyades is M45, the brilliant Pleiades open cluster.

C41 Data Table

Caldwell41
NameHyades
Object TypeOpen Cluster
ConstellationTaurus
Distance (light-years)153
Apparent Mag.+0.5
RA (J2000)04h 26m 54s
DEC (J2000)+15h 52m 00s
Apparent Size (arc mins)330 x 330
Radius (light-years)7.5
Age (years)625 Million
Number of Stars>200
Other NamesCollinder 50, Melotte 25
Notable FeatureNearest open cluster to the Solar System

Sky Highlights - July 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for July

Meteor Shower
Southern Delta Aquariids (Aquarids) meteor shower peaks on July 29

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (mag. -0.5 to +0.3) (second half of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -2.0)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
South:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Morning
Southwest:- Saturn
South:- Neptune
Southeast:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
East:- Venus (mag. -4.1)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (second half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Morning
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Venus, Uranus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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