Astral Imaging at Dogwood Ridge Observatory

Latitude: 3748'51.0" N"
Scottsville, Virginia 24590


(click on thumbnails to go to that image's page)






M45 - The Pleiades  or Seven Sisters
The Wide Field Image

Image Information

Quoted from SEDS:

Known pre-historically. Mentioned by Homer about 750 B.C., by biblical Amos about 750 B.C., and by Hesiod about 700 B.C.

The Pleiades, also known as Messier 45 (M45), are among those objects which are known since the earliest times. At least 6 member stars are visible to the naked eye, while under moderate conditions this number increases to 9, and under clear dark skies jumps up to more than a dozen (Vehrenberg, in his Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors, mentions that in 1579, well before the invention of the telescope, astronomer Moestlin has correctly drawn 11 Pleiades stars, while Kepler quotes observations of up to 14).

Modern observing methods have revealed that at least about 500 mostly faint stars belong to the Pleiades star cluster, spread over a 2 degree (four times the diameter of the Moon) field. Their density is pretty low, compared to other open clusters. This is one reason why the life expectation of the Pleiades cluster is also pretty low (see below).

According to Kenneth Glyn Jones, the earliest known references to this cluster are mentionings by Homer in his Ilias (about 750 B.C.) and his Odyssey (about 720 B.C.), and by Hesiod, about 700 B.C.. According to Burnham, they were seen in connection to the agricultural seasons of that time. Also, and the Bible has three references to the Pleiades (the Hebrew "Kiymah"): Job 9:7-9, Job 38:31-33, and Amos 5:8; the prophet Amos is believed to have given his message in 750 B.C. or 749 B.C., while there is no consent on the dating of the book of Job: Some believe it was written about 1,000 B.C. (the regency of Kings David and Solomon in old Israel) or earlier (Moses, about 13th to 16th century B.C.), others give reasons that it may have been created as late as the 3rd to 5th century B.C.. The present author [hf] does not know if the cluster is mentioned in one of the earlier Assyrian or Sumerian sources.

The Pleiades also carry the name "Seven Sisters"; according to Greek mythology, seven daughters and their parents. Their Japanese name is "Subaru", which was taken to christen the car of same name. The Persian name is "Soraya", after which the former Iranian empress was named. Old European (e.g., English and German) names indicate they were once compared to a "Hen with Chicks". Other cultures tell more and other lore of this naked-eye star cluster. Ancient Greek astronomers Eudoxus of Knidos (c. 403-350 BC) and Aratos of Phainomena (c. 270 BC) listed them as an own constellation: The Clusterers. This is also referred to by Admiral Smyth in his Bedford Catalog.

Burnham points out that the name "Pleiades" may be derived from either the Greek word for "to sail", or the word "pleios" meaning "full" or "many". The present author prefers the view that the name may be derived from the mythological mother, Pleione, which is also the name of one of the brighter stars.

According to Greek mythology, the main, visible stars are named for the seven daughters of "father" Atlas and "mother" Pleione: Alcyone, Asterope (a double star, also sometimes called Sterope), Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta and Celaeno. Bill Arnett has created a map of the Pleiades with the main star names. These stars are also labeled in a labeled copy of the UKS image which appears in this page. Also note our Pleiades map.

In 1767, Reverend John Michell used the Pleiades to calculate the probability to find such a group of stars in any place in the sky by chance alignment, and found the chance to be about 1/496,000. Therefore, and because there are more similar clusters, he concluded correctly that clusters should be physical groups (Michell 1767).

On March 4, 1769, Charles Messier included the Pleiades as No. 45 in his first list of nebulae and star clusters, published 1771.


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This image consists of images all taken at -30C at bin 1x1 for 10 minutes each. A total of 7 red, 7 green, and 7 blue images were used. All images used totaled 3-1/2 hours. All data was acquired using MaxImDl/CCD version 5.23 using ACP.   Images were reduced and saved in Pix Insight version 1.7.  Alignment, average combining, along with histogram stretching, deconvolution, and HDRWavelets was done using Pix Insight. Photoshop CS 5 was used to create the JPG versions for web presentation.  The image data was collected January 3, 2013 using ACP version 6.2.

Equipment and Location Information

Date January 3, 2013
Location Dogwood Ridge Observatory
Optics Takahashi FSQ-106
Mount Astro Physics AP1200GTO
Camera SBIG STL-11000M/FW10/
Filters Baader LRGB 50.8mm
Conditions Temperature low to mid 30s with moderate to good  seeing. Transparency good to moderate.

  Last Modified :01/23/09 12:40 AM