Daily Telescope: Zooming in on one of the most iconic night sky sights


Messier 45 as seen from Texas.
Enlarge / Messier 45 as seen from Texas.

Jeff Cohen

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light; a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It is November 9, and today’s photograph brings the Pleiades into focus.

This bright, open cluster of stars is known by several names. Sometimes it is the Seven Sisters, sometimes Pleiades, and in Japan it is known as the Subaru cluster—the automaker actually took its name from the astronomical object, reflecting the joining of five companies. The company’s logo mimics the star cluster.

Formally, the cluster is known as Messier 45. Because of its relative proximity to Earth—less than 450 light-years—it is the most obvious star cluster that can be observed with the naked eye. The best time for viewing is the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere.

Today’s photo comes from Pflugerville, Texas, which is near Austin. Jeff Cohen shot the image of the Pleiades cluster from his backyard over a four-hour period. The photograph nicely captures large streams of dust streaming around the stars, which have been produced as the cluster passes through an unrelated dust cloud. The blueish color is due to much the same light refraction pattern as that which produces a blue daytime sky here on Earth.

Source: Jeff Cohen.

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