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Utah Skies: Hyades And Aldebaran

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During the March evenings, the Hyades star cluster and the star Aldebaran are seen in the southwestern skies after sunset. This cluster is easy to see in the evening sky due to its unique V shape. The V shape is part of the constellation Taurus the Bull. 

The bright star Aldebaran represents the Bull’s red eye. Aldebaran is not really part of the cluster. The star is only 65 light-years away while the cluster lies 153 light-years. Aldebaran’s location in front of the Hyades cluster is just a matter of coincidence. A line of sight as we view it from Earth. 

The Hyades cluster is moving through the Milky Way together toward the supergiant Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. Like all open clusters over a long period of time the stars that make up the cluster begin to escape the cluster’s gravitational hold and will slowly disperse into the Milky Way. 

The stars that make up the Hyades are bright. The eye will see a dozen or more stars in a dark sky location, but a pair of binoculars will show several dozen or more members. 

According to sky mythology, the Hyades are the daughters of Atlas and Aethra who are crying after their brother Hyas was killed by a lion. They are also half-sisters to the Pleiades a nearby star cluster. 

Aldebaran and the Hyades are best seen from December through the end of April. 

On the evening of March 19, look to the southwestern sky after the sunset and you will see red Mars and the waxing crescent Moon close together in a pair of binoculars just above Aldebaran and the Hyades.