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  • Writer's pictureLuke

The Pleiades a car commercial in the sky.

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

The Pleiades is an open star cluster of about about 380 light years away and 13 light years across. Often called the seven sisters it actually contains thousands of stars, this becomes clear when looking at it with a telescope or binoculars.

Currently you can see the Pleiades just after sun set. If you look west just after the last refracted light of the sun set has faded from our atmosphere, the first thing you will notice is the "evening star" a really bright point just above where the sun set. The "evening star" is actually the planet Venus it cycles between being the evening star and the morning star as is traverses around the sun. If you keep looking down from Venus you will see a faint group of stars (getting away from any city lights will help in seeing it).... You can also see the Pleiades during the day by looking at the Subaru logos on cars in the streets!

Most people can see at least 6 stars in this group (just as in the logo), some can see 7. In a telescope, or binoculars you can see thousands. In really large telescopes or long exposures you can see the reflection nebula the stars are in (the blue cloud the stars are in in the top picture). These stars are young they were all born in the same nebula and are now starting to leave their birthplace and go their separate ways across our galaxy.  @subaru doesn't sponsor me however they should given how often I mention this fact this time of year.

I captured this a few weeks ago from my balcony. Notice Venus in the bottom right, and the Pleiades in the middle right (they are now swapped as we've moved a bit around the sun since this was taken). You can also see on this night the moon was in another larger open cluster called the Hyades ( the Hyades is also known as the head of Taurus the bull).

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