One of the most striking bright open clusters of frosty winter nights is Pleiades or Seven Sisters in the constellation Taurus. With the naked eye, seven stars can be clearly distinguished, but with a smaller binocular, we can already count many more stars. Seen from Europe / North America, it transit quite high, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most photographed deep-sky objects. As of this writing, on May 10, 2020, at NASA’s APOD, 159 hits are associated with the open cluster which also known as Messier 45.
Yet where do the seven sisters mentioned in the subtitle of the picture come from? Greek mythology considered the brightest stars of Pleiades to be the daughters of Atlas and Pleione, they were the seven sisters. The seven sisters were chased in the sky by Orion, the Hunter, but Zeus turned them into pigeons so they could escape. The naming of the stars of M45, based on their location, reflects that the two parents, Atlas and Pleione, are caring for their daughters. The Hungarian also known this object as Fiastyúk, which is well known in Hungary, was developed by the Hungarian fairy tale world. According to the legend, a fairy was looking for her sweetheart, and since she found it with the help of golden hens and six chicks given a gift, she placed them in the sky out of gratitude.
The cluster, which apparently occupies an area of roughly four full moons, is calculated to have more than five hundred stars. Their common feature is that they move at the same speed and in the same direction - they move away from us, which means that the area of the set seems to be narrowing more and more. The movement is, of course, slow on a human scale, but it is worth knowing that in a few tens of thousands of years there will be spectacular changes.
One of the main purposes of my photograph was also to show the environment of the 444 light-years away cluster. It can be observed that the bright blue stars illuminate the cloud of dust, the original color of which can be seen in the areas free of bright stars. Interestingly, the dust cloud is not part of the cluster, they even move in a distinctly opposite direction, so when they leave each other, the photographic look of the Pleiades will change significantly. I took the photograph over three nights averaging 10 hours of exposure. During the processing, I had to pay attention to the four brighter asteroids in the field of view due to the proximity of the ecliptic.
This photo was taken with the support of the Nation's Young Talent Scholarship, announced by Ministry of Human Resources, the Human Resources Support Manager and the National Talent Program.
Pleiades, Messier 45, M45, Col 42
R.A. 03 h 47 m 00 s Dec. +24° 07′ 01″
Open Cluster (feat. Maia and Merope Nebula)
Autumn and winter
26/12/2019; 29/12/2019; 01/01/2020
Total exposure time:
Tápióbicske, Pest, Hungary
Canon EOS 1300D (modified)
Sky-Watcher Esprit 80/400 mm apochromatic refractor
Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro GoTo
Sky-Watcher Field Flattener
Focal ratio, length:
f/5, 400 mm
120 x 300 s
Astro Pixel Processor, PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop
Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters (1866)
R.A. 03 h 50 m 00 s Dec. +23° 19′ 09″
308 million km
437 million km
Auguste Charlois (1896)
R.A. 03 h 50 m 27 s Dec. +23° 46′ 53″
379 million km
508 million km
Adam Massinger (1913)
R.A. 03 h 43 m 43 s Dec. +24° 15′ 41″
150 million km
283 million km
Lyudmila Vasilyevna Zhuravleva (1972)
R.A. 03 h 48 m 08 s Dec. +24° 44′ 35″
158 million km
291 million km