The Pleiades, February 23, 2008. The most beautiful of all open star clusters, The Pleiades has been celebrated in literature and legend since antiquity. Also called The Seven Sisters, or more prosaically, M45 it has played a prominent role in the folklore of many cultures. Most people can see at least six or seven stars that form a little cup shape. At a dark, rural location a dozen or so stars can be seen. The star cluster is actually made up of several hundred young stars that are a wonderful sight in binoculars. To my eyes it looks like a jewel box that has spilled its gems.
The Pleiades is located about 400 light years away. All of the stars in the group are travelling through space in a parallel trajectory. The whole group is passing through a dust cloud that reflects their light as blue nebulosity.
The Seven Sisters are located near the ecliptic; the path the Sun, Moon and planets seem to follow across the sky. As a result the star cluster is sometimes visited by one of them.
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