The Pleiades

Sunday, September 4, 2005
12:50 - 1:03 am EDT
Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel
3 x 5 minutes @ ISO 800
Black Forest Star Party (Cherry Springs State Park, Potter County, Pennsylvania)
Tele Vue Pronto 70 mm refractor (with Focal Reducer/Field Flattener) piggybacked on 10" LX200.
Dark frame subtracted, aligned, stacked, enhanced and cropped with Adobe Photoshop 7.0
The Pleiades is the most conspicuous and beautiful open cluster in our celestial neighborhood.  You've probably seen it yourself, but never realized it.  Simply follow the three belt stars of Orion up and to the right.  First you'll come across the red star Aldebaran and the V-shaped Hyades Cluster.  Continue drawing your line and you’re sure to stumble across a compact group of stars that looks like a mini dipper.  The stars of the Pleiades were all born together in a single star-forming event that occurred about 70 million years ago.  It was once thought that the blue reflection nebula that surrounds some of the Pleiads was left over material from this event.  However, astronomers discovered that the cluster and nebula are traveling in different directions; something you wouldn't expect if the two formed together.  Only 420 light-years away, it's an incredible sight no matter what instrument you use.