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

Object TypeOpen Cluster
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 - May 2017

Mercury reaches greatest elongation west on May 17, 2017

Meteor Shower
Eta Aquariids meteor shower peaks on May 5th and 6th, 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for May 2017

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Mars (mag. +1.6)
South:- Jupiter (mag. -2.4)
Southwest:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
South:- Saturn
East:- Venus (mag. -4.7)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Mars
North:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
Northwest:- Saturn
East:- Venus, Mercury (mag. +2.5 to -0.3), Neptune (mag. +7.9)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)

Messier 67 - M67 - Open Cluster
Messier 51 - M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 97 - M97 - The Owl Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 101 - M101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 65 – M65 – Spiral Galaxy
Messier 66 - M66 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
Messier 95 - M95 - Barred Spiral Galaxy
Messier 96 - M96 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4244 - Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4565 - Needle Galaxy - Spiral Galaxy

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