Riding the wave

Taurus (the Bull)

Europe is the name of several heroines of mythology.

The most famous one was the beautiful daughter of Agenor and Telephassa, whom Zeus fell in love with, when seeing her play with her girl-friends on the beach in Sidon, of which her father was king. To get near her, he took the form of a bull of dazzling whiteness, with the horns in the shape of a crescent moon. Then, docile, he went to squat at the foot of the girl who, attracted by his beauty and gentleness, began to play with him and adorn him with flowers, and eventually climbed on his back.

The bull then rushed towards the sea, heedless of the cries of the girl, and swam as far as Crete. Near a water-spring he made love to her in the shade of plane trees, which - in memory of their love - were granted the privilege of never losing their leaves. They gave birth to Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthus.

Zeus gave Europa three presents: Talos, the bronze guardian of Crete, who was to ensure eternal security to his beloved; a dog that never failed its prey, and a dart that never missed its target, and then gave her in marriage to the king of Crete, who adopted his children. After her death, Europe was given divine honors, while the bull that had lent his features to Zeus was transformed into a constellation.


The constellation of Taurus is rich with stars and is surrounded by showy clusters. The asterism, whose stars form a V, outlines the animal's head; the main star - Aldebaran - is the left eye, and the second star in importance - Elnath - marks the apex of the horn to the right. The seven Pleiades mark the animal's back and the small group of the Hyades are close to its mouth.

The constellation covers an area of about 800 sq. degrees and is bordered to the north by Perseus, by Gemini (the Twins) in the east, in the south by the bright Orion and by Eridanus, and in the west by the Ram and the Whale.

It is clearly visible in February, southwards, around 7 p.m.