The Pleiades Cluster - M 45
The Pleiades Cluster M 45 Photographed From Table Mountain Observatory
This picture was taken on September 8, 1997 in the earlier morning
hours during tracking tests of the
10-inch Schmidt telescope at Table Mountain. A 35mm camera was piggybacked onto the side of
the Schmidt telescope.
The Pleiades Cluster, also known as the "Seven Sistes"
(and logo for Subaru) is probably the best
known galactic star cluster in the heavens. This cluster is one of the nearest, lying at a distance of
about 400 light years. The actual cluster itself may contain over 300 stars, but most of us see the
main 6 to 7 stars. I once knew an individual that could see upwards of 20 stars with the naked eye
from a dark site, but I'm lucky to count 10! The faint nebulosity surrounding the stars appears to
be dust particles, since spectra obtained is the same as that of the bright stars.
Just to the left center is the brightest member named Alcyone, and to its left are two stars, the brighter
being Atlas, and the fainter star above is Pleione. To the right of Alcyone is Merope (lower), and then
Maia, Taygeta, Electra and Celaeno. Just above Maia are two close stars, the right (brighter) one is
The Zeiss-Ikon 35mm camera with a 250mm telephoto lens set at
f/4 was used to take this 30 minute
exposure on Kodak Professional Ektachrome P1600 (800-3200 ASA) film, developed at 1600 ASA.
Table Mountain Observatory, operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is located just west of the
town of Wrightwood, California at an elevation of 7500 feet.
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