Image of the Pleiades star cluster, (right), or Messier 45 (M45), from SEDS, taken with the 0.9-m Telescope of Kitt Peak National Observatory, in 1975. Credit: AURA/NOAO/NSF
I just can't get enough of these Deep Sky Obejcts, and turns out the constellation of Taurus has two very famous ones: the Crab Nebula and these Pleiades.
The brightest seven of the Pleiades star cluster's more than three thousand stars are known as the Seven Sisters. They are easily visible to the eye (barring light pollution), and were mentioned by Homer and in the Bible, in about 750 B.C.
The zodiac sign Taurus is an Earth sign, symbolized by a bull. It's a fixed sign too, and since Earth also has qualities that you might call fixed, Taurus is the most...well, fixed, of all the signs. You know--loyal and steady and strong.
As a Pisces, I think of Taureans at their best as providing riverbanks to my wandering waters.
I have had some good Taurus friends, but sometimes Earth feels overly confining to Water, and Water can seem foolishly undisciplined to Earth.
My friend Jim, for instance, was a classic Taurus. Tall and handsome, with shoulders fit for a yoke, Jim was a earthy, sensual man. And fixed to the point of rigidity, when he was young.
One evening Bink, Jim, and I played Monopoly together. Everything went well, until Jim realized that I was cheating. I wasn't hiding it--I always thought you were supposed to cheat at Monopoly. I mean, otherwise, it's just a boring, predictable game. What's the point?
But Jim was horrified.
No matter what I said, he didn't think it was funny at all. He took it as an assault upon All Good Things. Did I mention Tauruses are truthful? Jim was so upset with me for "lying," as he called it, and I was so clueless as to what the big deal was, we had to stop playing.
Because he was Bink's best friend, he and I tried to tolerate each other, but we weren't friends.
All zodiac signs are changeable to some extent, however, even the most fixed, under certain conditions. When Jim's conditions changed, so did our relationship.
Jim and his lover Bruce were caught in that early wave of HIV/AIDS, before anyone really knew what was going on, much less had medicine for it. Bruce died within a few months of being diagnosed. Bink and I stayed with Jim for the weekend of the funeral, and it was then he and I started to become friends. I didn't know it at the time, but I know now that just being there after a death is enough.
Jim lived with AIDS for five years, and during those years, he loosened up. And I guess I grew up some after Bruce's death and came to appreciate how great it is to know someone who doesn't go away, even if you annoy them. I stopped feeling the riverbanks as constrictions and started to accept them as support.
During this time, I decided to get my driver's license, and once Jim let me practice drive his BMW in a parking lot. I'd always thought he'd bought this boring looking (to me) car because it was a status symbol. Up until then, I'd mostly been practicing on a Ford Escort Pony, and as a new driver, I thought that little squib of a car was a big rush.
When I drove Jim's BMW, though, I had a revelation: people don't drive these cars just because they're status symbols. They drive them because they are powerful, smooth, calm, dependable, sexy.
And close to the earth.