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Aldebaran

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Star used in celestial navigation.

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Aldebaran is the brightest star in the Taurus constellation, indeed one of the brightest stars in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere. The star a red giant 60 light years from earth with a diameter about forty times that of the sun and 350 times more luminous.

The name Aldebaran is of Arabian origin. It means ‘the follower’, reflecting the fact that the star appears to follow the Hyades (Pleiades) star cluster across the sky.

Aldebaran figures in the knowledge systems of many cultures.

In Hawaiian society, the star is known as Makali’i, signifying its part in guiding the great ancestral navigator Makali’i to Hawaii-loa

William Wyatt Gill, a missionary in the Cook Islands, recorded that the islanders believed the Hyades were once one star, but

Its bright effulgence excited the anger of the god Tane, who got hold of Aldebaran (Aumea) and Sirius (Mere), and chased the offender. The affrighted fugitive ran for his life, and took refuge behind a stream. But Sirius drained off the waters, thus enabling Tane to renew the chase. Finally, Tane hurled Aldebaran bodily against the exhausted fugitive, who was thereby splintered into six shining fragments. This cluster is approproately called Mata-riki, or little eyes

Wyatt, Myths and Songs from the South Pacific (1876), p. 43.

Wyatt also records a song about the brilliance of Aldebaran (Aumea) arousing the jealousy of a goddess named Vena

 

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Prepared by: Turnbull, P
Created: 4 October 2001
Modified: 10 October 2001

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000064

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