By Adam England
This month we can see one of the most easily recognizable groupings of stars in the winter sky – The Pleiades. Also cataloged as Messier 45 (M45) or colloquially as The Seven Sisters, it is a star cluster of hot blue stars averaging 444 light years from earth. Used by the Ancient Greeks to determine the Mediterranean sailing season, the name is derived from the mythology of Pleione whose seven daughters were saved from the pursuit of Orion when Zeus first transformed them into doves, and then into stars in the heavens. Nebulosity around the stars is visible with a basic telescope or good binoculars on a clear night.
M45: The Pleiades
Size: 120 arc-min
Right Ascension: 10 hr 20 min
Declination: +19 deg., 51’
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Adam England is the director-at-large and in charge of public relations for the Prescott Astronomy Club.