M45

Alt. Designations: The Pleiades
Object Type: Open Cluster
Constellation: Taurus
Distance: 0.44 kly
Right Ascension: 03h 47m 24s
Declination: +24° 0 7' 00"
Visual Magnitude: 1.6
Apparent Dimension:  110' Dia.
Best Month To View: Dec

The nine brightest stars of the Pleiades are named for the Seven Sisters of Greek mythology: Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygete, Celaeno, and Alcyone, along with their parents Atlas and Pleione. As one of the closest of star clusters to our solar system, M45 is dominated by hot blue stars that have only formed within the last 100 million years. Alongside Maia is a reflection nebula discovered by Tempel faint nebula which accompanies Merope was discovered by master observer E.E. Barnard. These were first believed to be left over from the formation of the cluster. However, it didnít take many years of observation of proper motion for astronomers to realize the Pleiades were actually moving through a cloud of interstellar dust. While this pleasing blue group is still only 440 light years away, it only has about another 250 million years left before tidal interactions will tear it apart. By then, its relative motion will have carried it from the constellation of Taurus to the southern portion of Orion!