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Pleiades (2,674 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Pleiades, Cl Melotte 22, Cl Collinder 42, Ocl 421.0, COCD 47, C 0344+239, Seven Sisters, Subaru, Messier 45

RA: 03h 47m 29s
Dec: +24° 06′ 18″

Con: Taurus
Ch: MSA:163, U2:132, SA:4

Ref: SIMBAD, Archinal&Hynes (2003)

(reference key)

Type: open cluster, 13rn

Mag: B=?, V=1.5

Size: 120′
PA: ?

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Sketches  (1)

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Photos  (5)

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Published comments

Barnard, E. E. (1890)

Barnard, E. E. (1890) "On the Nebulosities of the Pleiades and on a New Merope Nebula", A.N. 3018.

"Having the opportunity in Nov and Dec to examine the Pleiades with the 36-inch refractor, I have looked up the several nebulosities that have been shown in the various photogrpahs that have been made of the cluster by the Henry Brothers and Mr Roberts etc. As any thing in the way of visual observations of these features will be of interest, I append the following remarks not that any thing not shown on the photographs has been seen (except in one case which will receive attention further no) but merely as a visual verification of the photographs."

[Discussion of Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Merope, and a New Merope nebulae]

Bailey, S.I

"! cluster, well known cluster of bright stars, not given in NGC."

Bailey, S.I. (19xx) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

Remarks, p.217: "The nuybmer of stars which really belong to this cluster is doubtful. Several thousand stars have been photographed in this region, but there is no proof that many of these belonf to the cluster, since even this large number is no greater, if, indeed it is as great, as that in an equal area of the surrounding regions. Apparently the cluster itself consists of a few comparatively bright stars."


Trumpler (Lick Obs. Bulletin, Vol 14, No 420) gives the diameter as 120' and the class as 2 3 r. He notes the presence of nebulosity.

Cederblad, S. (1946) [VII/231]

Cederblad 19 is "The nebulous region of the Pleiades. History: (113, 191, 772). General discussions : (30, 46, 53, 54, 78, 119, 184, 186, 191, 194, 206, 207, 331, 345, 365, 366, 560, 571, 578, 709, 715, 750, 751, 753, 755, 804). Visual and photographic observations : (19, 33, 69, 93 Pl 4, 100, 105, 114, 216, 241, 261, 280, 328, 334, 335, 336, 344, 553, 586, 587, 596, 597, 598, 603, 612, 631, 792). The exterior nebulosities : (56, 73, 76, 84, 91, 422, 629, 779, 800). Parallax : (14, 221, 299, 482, 484, 486, 565, 753). Stellar data : (13, 94, 101, 159, 233, 285, 546, 560, 697, 783). Nebular spectrum : (289, 293, 688, 695, 745). Nebular photometry : (196, 344, 712). Polarization : (337). Absorption : (40, 424, 560, 783)."

Modern observations

Harrington, Phil

Harrington notes that this is "the first open cluster noticed by most beginning skywatchers. It rides on the back of Taurus the Bull and is appears to the naked eye as six to eight stars set in the shape of a tiny dipper. Sharp-eyed observers can see more cluster member, especially on cold, crystalline winter nights when the sky is very dark ... Because they span almost two degrees of sky, the Pleiades demand low power and a wide field to be seen at their best. Binoculars or a rich field telescope reveal dozens upon dozens of the cluster's fainter stellar siblings. . . A wispy cloud of interstellar material through which the stars are currently passing forms an amazingly intricate network of bluish reflection nebulosity intertwined with M45. Although much of this cloud is invisible to the visual observers, a few tufts can be faintly seen on clear, dark nights. The brightest engulfs Merope, the southernmost star in the Pleiades' dipper. Look for a glow extending south of the star."

Steve Coe

Steve CoeSACNEWS On-Line for January 1996: "M 45 is also Melotte 22, either way this cluster is best known as The Pleiades. I have observed this striking Winter star group with every type of optical aid and the naked eye. Since I have been able to hold 12 stars steady with just the naked eye, you know any optical aid will bring out lots of great detail. Two observations really stand out. The best view I have ever had in a telescope was with Rich Walker's 8" f/4.5 Rich Field Telescope (get it!). Anyway, at 30X The Seven Sisters were awash in nebulosity and several lovely chains of stars within the group were easily traced beyond the brightest members, out into dark space. The nebula within this cluster is brightest surrounding Merope, using the 13" at 100X, it appeared wedge shaped and has the star Merope at the tip. From a dark site any optical aid will show a glow around Merope, the smallest I have used is a pair of 8 X 25 binoculars. Now, on to my favorite device for viewing The Pleiades; BIG binoculars. Using Rick Rotrammel's large binoculars (20X80's, I think) and the steady stand he purchased on a Riverside discount, The Pleiades are spectacular. Many of the beautiful, curved chains of stars are easy to spot and the nebulosity looks like frost on a windowpane. There is something available when you are viewing the Universe with both eyes that doesn't happen with just one eye."


See also "Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky" by Roger N. Clark (1990, Sky Publishing Corporation) page 90.

John Bortle

John Bortle (Webb Society Quarterly Journal, January 1976) using 10x50 binoculars, estimates the visual magnitude as 1.3.

Rick Raasch

Rick Raasch writes in "The Focal Point", Volume 6, No. 3 (1993) "The Pleiades This is another classic open cluster. Easily visible to the naked eye, it yields a beautiful sight in binoculars. It is dipper-shaped, and about 5-7 stars can be seen with the naked eye. The slightest magnification shows about 100 stars in a compact area. Larger instruments show the fine nebulosity surrounding the brighter stars which is often seen in photographs."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "Brilliance of stars in this 1.5 degree cluster makes seeing surrounding nebulosity difficult, but clear skies and a good wide field eyepiece and P-filter make the view staggering; nebulosity surrounding Merope has the designation N1435; great binocular object! see how many of the Pleiades you can distinguish with the naked eye."

Donald J. Ware

"This is another classic open cluster. Easily visible to the naked eye, it yields a beautiful sight in binoculars. It is dipper-shaped, and about 5-7 stars can be seen with the naked eye. The slightest magnification shows about 100 stars in a compact area. Larger instruments show the fine nebulosity surrounding the brighter stars which is often seen in photographs.

(IAAC) Todd Gross

Observer: Todd Gross

Your skill: Intermediate

Date and UT of observation: 08/19/97 0820 GMT

Location & latitude: 22 miles west of Boston, Ma. 42.3N

Site classification: Suburban

Limiting magnitude (visual): 4.2 (estimated) 4.0(est) in vicinity of object

Seeing (1 to 10 - worst-best): 5

Moon up (phase?): Yes, full, towards horizon

Instrument: 4" 102mm acr. refractor (C102), 1000mm fl, f/9.8

Magnifications: 33

Filters used: none

Object: M45, Pleides


Object data: Open cluster

Beautiful object! The cluster barely did not fit into the 1.5 degree field. What made this glittering, widely spaced cluster so interesting were all the different brightnesses of stars inter-mixed, It gave the cluster an illusion of depth, not often seen in open clusters. Much more satisfying (to me) than in 10x binoculars, but with any higher magnitification, this star field would have lost it's interest.

(IAAC) Todd Gross

Observer: Todd Gross

Your skill: Intermediate

Date and UT of observation: 09/05/97 0755 GMT

Location & latitude: 22 miles west of Boston, Ma. 42.3N

Site classification: Suburban

Limiting magnitude (visual): 5.3 (estimated) 4.9 (est) in vicinity of object

Seeing (1 to 10 - worst-best): 4-5

Moon up (phase?): No

Instrument: 16" Newtonian-dob w. 96/99% coatings f/4.59

Magnifications: 58x

Filters used: none and OIII

Object: M45


Object data: Open cluster

The Pleiades was surprising at this aperture at this magnification. I expected a total loss. Obviously, I was too magnified to take in the whole cluster, and I did not expect the view to be as good as through smaller scopes. However, there was a surprise. Firstly, I was not able to make out the nebulosity surrounding M45. I may have to try a deep sky filter, or wait for darker skies. The surprise was this.. at this aperture. filter-less, the sheer luminosity of this cluster is overwhelming. Unlike M37 which I also viewed, M45 has stars of varying magnitude, and is less dense. However, the brightest stars are so bright at this aperture that it is almost shocking to see so many extraordinarily bright stars in one field of view. Certainly affected my dark adaptation!

(IAAC) Lew Gramer

Observer: Lew Gramer

Your skills: Intermediate

Date and UT of Observation: 1997-12-25/26, 01:00 UT

Location: Medford, MA, USA (42N)

Site classification: suburban

Limiting magnitude: 5.1 (zenith)

Seeing: 7 of 10 - good

Moon up: no

Instrument: 7x35 handheld Tasco binoculars

Magnification: 7x

Filters used: None

Object: M45 (Pleiades or Seven Sisters)

Category: Open Cluster [I,3,r,n]

Constellation: Tau

Data: mag 1.2 size 110'

RA/DE: 03h47m +24o07m


This Christmas night I managed to catch a few moments of cloudless darkness in the backyard with the little binoculars, before we set off to see that cheery Holiday movie "Titanic"(!) Though the stars of 1990s Medford can hardly compare to those of the desolate 1910s North Atlantic, the views were nonetheless a thrilling gift for me. The "Named Nine" stars of the Pleiades were immediate and striking in my arm-steadied 4o field, with Atlas and Pleione separated wide, and Pleione appearing somewhat brighter than normal at the moment? The tiny, distinctive double at the center of the "bowl" was not at all resolvable. But the companion to Alcyone was fairly easy when I took steadying deep breaths for a moment, and Asterope was easily split without real effort. M 45 stands out best in very wide-field views like this one, looking much like a pile of white jewels placed on a velvet cloth. In a very brief respite from tonight's persistent cloudiness and light pollution-disturbed haze, I easily counted at least 35 stars in clear association with the central cluster. That was in addition to a lovely string of five mag. 8 stars trailing SE out of the "bowl", which I had somehow never noted before in smaller (1o - 2o) fields of view, and had certainly never managed naked eye! At some future time, under a MUCH darker sky, I hope to snag some of M45's fabled reflection (and dark!) nebulosity in just binocs... :)

(IAAC) Lew Gramer

Observer: Lew Gramer

Your skills: Intermediate

Date and UT of Observation: 1997-11-29/30, 05:00 UT

Location: Miles Standish State Forest, MA, USA (41N, elev 30m)

Site classification: rural

Limiting magnitude: 6.6 (zenith)

Seeing: 9 of 10 - excellent

Moon up: no

Instrument: 6" f/4 equatorial Newtonian

Magnification: 38x (binoviewer)

Filters used: None

Object: M45 (Pleiades), NGC1432, NGC1435, Ced19

Category: Open Cluster, Reflection Nebulosity complex

Constellation: Tau

Data: mag 1.2, 3.2(*), 4.2(*), 5(*)

size 110', 30'x30', 30'x30', irreg

RA/DE: 03h47m +24o07m


Dan Smoody took advantage of a moment of crystal clarity over Taurus tonight, to make a daring attempt to catch the diaphanous nebulosity that suffuses M45. Together, we used averted vision, the edge of the field as an "occulting bar", and comparison with nearby bright stars (to eliminate any possibility of mistaking internal reflection or sky glow for the nebulae). We were able to confirm gauzy halos around no less than 4 stars, with (as expected) the strongest showing from that easy haze around Merope. With averted vision, less distinct but very definite, smallish, irregular "glows" were also seen surrounding her sister "bowl" stars Maia, Electra, and Alcyone, with Alcyone's appar- ently most "concentrated" (smallest yet brightest). It seemed a good confirmation of tonight's observation that the extent of haze around each star varied independently of the star's brightness, and that no nebulae were noted near either Atlas or Taygeta. This is the least aperture reflector (5" f/5 being the smallest refractor) with which I've so far managed to see any of this nebulosity, and I loved how much of it WAS seen! For comparison's sake, observing with my 8" SCT (f/10) that night, I only managed to glimpse Merope's nebulosity.

Contemporary observations

Richard Ford

2011 February 5th, Saturday

Location: Koornlandskloof

Time: 23:23


Limiting magnitude:

Sky conditions:

2010 February 5th, Saturday


Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Eyepieces:26mm Super Wide Field Eyepiece.

20mm Ultra Wide Angle Eyepiece.

Sky Conditions:Dark moon and stars magnitude 6 and fainter are barely visible with naked eye.

Transparency of the Sky:The most clear sky possible.

Seeing:Excellent clean sky,limited star flickering and brilliant objects.

Limiting Magnitude:6.5.

Object Type:Open Cluster.

First Impression:This object looks like an open cluster.



Chart Number:No.2(Extract taken out of "Atlas of the Night Sky").

Size:26mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/1=57'.

20mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/1=50'.



Size in Arc Minutes:53.5'.


Major Axis:53.5'.


Minor Axis:26.7'.

Open Cluster is 53.5'*26.7'.


Brightness Profile:From the far outskirts to the central outskirts of this cluster it is evenly bright.

Challenge Rating:Very easy.



By observing M45 this open cluster is not separated.In overall I have counted 40 stars in this cluster.Around the bright star Merope in this cluster I have found some delicate wisps of gas which is nebulosity.On the other hand most of the stars are nearly the same brightness as each other.The stars are not at all concentrated towards each other.

Andre de la Porte

2012 January 01, Sunday

Location: Riviera, Pretoria

Time: 21:15-21:30

Telescope: Orion 10 In Dob

Limiting magnitude: 4.5

Sky conditions: Good seeing and transparency

Eyepiece: Finder scope

Magnification: 8

The seven sisters appear brilliant and sparkling. Under light polluted skies the amount of stars that can be seen is limited � I counted about 28 in this view. There is also no nebulosity visible in this finder scope view.

Pierre de Villiers

2016 February 04, Thursday

Location: Bonnievale SSP (Night Sky Caravan Park)

Binoculars: Canon 12x36 IS (5-deg fov)

Sky conditions: Good

Quality of observation: Good

About 43 stars. Some 15 bright. 6 or 7 brightest. Stunning open cluster, one of the most prominent. m = 1; size 150-arcmin (100-arcmin cat.)

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