The Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters, is open star cluster of several hundred (to possibly more than 1,000) stars with the brightest dozen or so visible to the naked eye at about a combined 1st magnitude brightness. This star cluster has been observed and named by many cultures around the world and was designated as M-45 by French Astronomer and comet hunter Charles Messier in his catalog of celestial objects he had ruled out as non-comets. Given its size at about 2-degrees the Pleiades are hard not to notice, even at times like this evening when the near full Moon is close. When you observe this star cluster you are looking at relatively young stars located around 300-400 light years from us. In time-exposure images there is often some nebulosity shown surrounding some of the stars. This is not remnants of the material the stars formed out of but rather is an interstellar cloud of dust and gases that the star cluster is passing through.
Tomorrow the Moon meets Jupiter, is eclipsed, and is this year’s “Super-Mini” Moon.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.