Pleiades star cluster, aka Seven Sisters

Weather Headlines

TOPSHOT – This long exposure picture taken on December 23, 2017 shows the pleiades, as seen from Bago, located 91 kilometres north-east of Yangon. / AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images)

The Pleiades star cluster – also known as the Seven Sisters or M45 – is visible from virtually every part of the globe. It can be seen from as far north as the North Pole, and farther south than the southernmost tip of South America. It looks like a tiny misty dipper of stars.

If you’re familiar with the famous constellation Orion, it can help you be sure you’ve found the Pleiades.

If you can find the prominent constellation Orion, you can find the Pleiades. Orion’s Belt points to the bright reddish star Aldebaran … then generally toward the Pleiades.

In our Northern Hemispheres skies, the Pleiades cluster is associated with the winter season. It’s easy to imagine this misty patch of icy-blue suns as hoarfrost clinging to the dome of night. Frosty November is often called the month of the Pleiades, because it’s at this time that the Pleiades shine from dusk until dawn. But you can see the Pleiades cluster in the evening sky well into April.

Most people see six, not seven, Pleiades stars in a dark country sky.

To see more than six or seven Pleiades stars, you must have very good eyesight (or a pair of binoculars). And you must be willing to spend time under a dark, moonless sky. Stephen O’Meara, a dark-sky connoisseur, claims that eyes dark-adapted for 30 minutes are six times more sensitive to light than eyes dark-adapted for 15 minutes. The surest way to see additional Pleiades stars is to look at this cluster through binoculars or low power in a telescope.

In both myth and science, the Pleiades are considered to be sibling stars. Modern astronomers say the Pleiades stars were born from the same cloud of gas and dust some 100 million years ago. This gravitationally bound cluster of several hundred stars looms some 430 light-years distant, and these sibling stars drift through space together at about 25 miles per second (40 km/sec). Many of these Pleiades stars shine hundreds of times more brightly than our sun.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss