Messier 45, The Pleiades

Image Credit: Robert Fields and Terry Hancock The Pleiades (M45): The Pleiades (pronounced play-dees) star cluster is perhaps one of the brightest and most noticeable star clusters. Even under a full moon, this impressive cluster still appears as a rather bright smudge with the naked eye. When the moon isn’t there you can see the seven sisters in their full glory, illuminated from the back by a bright smudge. The Pleiades formed together in the same cloud of molecular hydrogen. As the hydrogen collapsed, stars were ignited and fusion began. As more stars formed, more hydrogen was used. Today, only a small amount of gas and dust remains. The stars travel through space together but are not gravitationally bound, which means that they are slowly drifting apart. Because of this, the cluster will slowly break apart. WIth a telescope at low power or binoculars you will find that this cluster is composed of hundreds of stars. Due to the size of this cluster it is recommended to have a wide field of view, making binoculars the most ideal choice for viewing the Pleiades. To locate the sisters trace a straight line right from Orion’s Belt, through Taurus the bull until you see a fuzzy patch on the sky.

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