The Pleiades (Messier 45) star cluster: an image – 8 Nov. 2023

We captured the legendary Messier 45 star cluster, better known as the Pleiades. After careful processing, the resulting image is below.

The Pleiades (Messier 45) open star cluster. 8 Nov. 2023.

The Pleiades (Messier 45) open star cluster. 8 Nov. 2023.

The image above comes from the average of 15, 120-second exposures, unfiltered, remotely taken with the ARTEC250+Paramount ME+C3Pro61000EC robotic unit available as part of the Virtual Telescope Project facility in Manciano, Italy. The image was gently processed to show all the finest details and structures visible in the original data.

Messier 45, known since the dawn of time, is perhaps the most studied open star cluster in the sky. They are mentioned by Homer in both the Odyssey and Iliad and are represented in the precious Nebra disk (1600 BC). It is impossible to track the vast scientific literature referring to this cluster, of great importance to calibrate the astronomical distance ladder. They were also carefully observed by Galileo and reported in his Sidereus Nuncius.

The cluster contains hundreds of young (100 million years old) stars, very hot (hence their blue hue in color images), located at 444 light years from us. For sure, the Pleiades are one of the most observed objects of the deep sky, visible by naked eye even from cities and spectacular through binoculars. The stars seem to be surrounded by a nebulosity, which is reflecting the light (and color) of the brightest members of the cluster. It is believed that the nebulosity comes from a cloud of dust in the interstellar medium, placed in a region of space now crossed by the cluster.

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