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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Astronomy Picture of the Day

M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster
From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day

Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters.

The Pleiades contains over 3000 stars, is about 400 light years away, and only 13 light years across.

Quite evident in the photograph are the blue reflection nebulae that surround the brighter cluster stars. Low mass, faint, brown dwarfs have also been found in the Pleiades.

(Editors' note: The prominent diffraction spikes are caused by the telescope itself and may be either distracting or provide aesthetic enhancement, depending on your point of view.)

Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler