Pleiades-Seven Sisters, Becky Getz
Subaru, the Pleiades--the Seven Sisters (Messier object 45) is an open star
cluster in the Taurus constellation Anywhere from six to twelve stars are
ordinarily visible to the naked eye, depending on the clearness of the sky.
Pre-historically, these stars were observed by Homer in 750 B.C. and mentioned
in his books Ilias and Odyssey, and by Hesiod around 700 B.C. During this
time, the stars were connected to agricultural seasons. In addition, the
Bible has three references to the Pleiades; specifically, Job 38:31, Amos
5:8, and Job 9:9 which says God "is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south." In 1579, astronomer
Moestlin drew 11 Pleiades stars and Kepler made written observations of
up to 14 of them. Modern observations have shown that at least about 500
mostly faint stars belong to the Pleiades cluster, spread over a 2 degree
(four times the diameter of the Moon) area. Their density is pretty low,
compared to other open clusters and therefore the life expectation of the
Pleiades cluster is pretty low. The Pleiades also have the name "Seven
Sisters"; according to Greek mythology, seven daughters and their parents.
Their Japanese name is "Subaru", which was used for a car of the
same name. Old European names indicate they were once compared to a "Hen
Since these stars are visible to the naked eye, their brightness clouded some of the picture; this is a cropped section of some stars in it. The linear distance to the cluster is 4400 light years size and the angular size is 11.95 light years.
April 11, 2005