The Pleiades

The Pleiades

The Pleiades Star Cluster, also known as M45, is one of the brightest and closest open star clusters. Of all of the objects in the Messier catalog, it is the closest (440 light-years away). It is also the brightest Messier object, and can be seen with the naked eye even from light polluted urban skies. The hot blue stars that stand out the brightest in this star cluster are less than 100 million years old, which is very young for stars. Blue reflection nebulae surround most of the brightest stars, but are extremely difficult to detect visually, and this short exposure barely shows the nebulae. The dust cloud forming the blue nebulae is a dust cloud that the star cluster is currently moving through, and is unrelated to the material from which the stars formed.

The Pleiades were known in ancient times. The greeks, for example, considered them to be a separate constellation. The Pleiades are mentioned in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. They are mentioned three times in the Bible, i.e., at Job 9:9; Job 38:31; and Amos 5:8.

This photo was taken on October 16, 1998. A Takahashi Epsilon 250 telescope was used to take the photo, with an Olympus OM-1 camera. The film used was Kodak Ektapress multispeed 640 color negative film, also called PJM film. The exposure was guided with an ST-4 autoguider attached to a separate 78mm guidescope.

Constellation: Taurus
RA: 03h 47m 00s Dec: +24d 07' 00" (J2000)
October 16, 1998
Photo by Sid Leach
Iola, Texas

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