To the average person, the Pleiades Star Cluster appears as a tight knot of 6 or 7 stars. This star cluster is often called the "Seven Sisters." The nine brightest members form a pattern that resembles a dipper, and for that reason, it is sometimes mistaken by beginners as the little dipper. It is an excellent object to view with binoculars. The Pleiades star cluster is one of the closest open star clusters to us, having a distance of about 440 light years. The nine brightest members are all B-type giants concentrated in a region about 7 light years in diameter. The brightest star is Eta Tauri, also named Alcyone, and is nearly 1000 times more luminous than the Sun. This galactic star cluster has a total membership of at least 1000 statistically confirmed members. The total mass of the star cluster is about 800 solar masses. This image shows a portion of the faint nebulous haze swirling around some of the stars. The spectrum of the nebulosity is identical to the spectra of the involved stars. The nebulous gasses apparently shine by star light reflected from dust and perhaps larger solid particles. The nebulosity was recorded in photographs taken in 1885.
M45 was added to the Messier catalog as the last object on the list when it was first published in 1769. It is one of only three objects on the Messier list that does not have an NGC number. Of all of the objects on the Messier list, it is the closest to us.
This image was taken on with a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor telescope using an SBIG STL-11000M CCD binned 3x3. The image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona.
RA: 03h 47m 00s Dec: +24d 07' 00" (J2000)
January 18, 2009
Image by Sid Leach
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Description of equipment used to acquire images.
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