Image credit & copyright: Marco Lorenzi.
If you’ve been looking, this striking, easily observable open star cluster has been rising heliacally (before the Sun) in the east within their home constellation of Taurus the Bull. For those of us here in the northern hemisphere, that visual indicates that the end of summer is near and the fall/winter constellations of the Orion neighborhood will be growing higher and earlier in the eastern sky.
This beautiful image of the Pleiades was captured by the great astrophotographer, Marco Lorenzi and it shows that the Seven Sisters are in fact more of a family gathering of a couple hundred young stars that were likely all birthed from the same star forming region about 100 million years ago. The remnants of that cloud can be seen in the wispy cloud-like highlights all throughout the cluster.
As this group travels through space at about 25 miles per second, they will eventually begin to grow apart and possibly resemble something along the lines of the Big Dipper which is believed to have once been an open star cluster as well, and in time, the cluster will be no more.
NAME: Messier 45, M45, Pleiades, Seven Sisters.
WHAT IS IT?: Open star cluster.
HOW BIG IS IT?: About 2 degrees on the night sky.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Centered about 430 light years.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE: An easily visible 1 or +1.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Taurus (The Bull).
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/Dec J2000): RA 3h 47m 24s / Dec +24° 07′ 00″.
Marco Lorenzi; Glittering Lights: http://www.glitteringlights.com/