D. Heilman Astrophotography

Pleiades Cluster (M45)

This iconic open cluster in Taurus is one of most widely recognized asterisms in the night sky.  Recognized since antiquity, the Pleiades cluster has served as a source of inspiration, navigation, and scientific discovery for thousands of years.  This cluster is estimated between 75 and 150 million years old at a distance of ~130 parsecs (424 light years).  The Pleiades have a high proper motion and are collectively moving into Taurus and towards the feet of Orion. Ironically, the mythos surrounding the Pleiades in Ancient Greece told of the cluster as "seven sisters", daughters of Atlas and Pleione who were cast into the sky as stars to save them from having to run away from Orion.  In fact they were running towards him.    The stars are currently traveling through a dusty area of the Milky Way leading to a blue glow cast on the passing material, reflected light from the the young, hot blue B-type stars.  These are short lived stars and will disperse and die within the next 200 million years or so as they descend into the spiral material of the Milky Way.  The Japanese have another name for the Pleiades... Subaru - the namesake for the starry symbol that adorns their cars!