M45 - The Pleiades Star Cluster in Taurus

Copyright 2005 Hap Griffin

This open cluster of hot, young stars (approximately 100 million years old) is easily visible with the naked eye and has been known since ancient times.  The Pleiades are sometimes called the "Seven Sisters" from Greek mythology, or "Subaru" by the Japanese (this is where the car name came from).  Often, this cluster is mistaken by laymen for the Little Dipper due to its shape (the real Little Dipper is much larger and in another part of the sky). 

The beautiful blue reflection nebula surrounding the stars of the cluster was once thought to be the remains of the cluster's birth cloud.  However, recent measurements of the relative velocities and directions of travel of the cloud and stars reveal that they are unrelated...we are fortunate to be living in a time when their chance collision creates one of the most beautiful sites in the winter sky.  The distance to M45 is 380 light-years.

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Date/Location:    September 3, 2005    Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 350D Digital SLR (modified) through Orion ED80 w/ Meade .63 Focal Reducer piggybacked on LX-200 
Focal Ratio:    Approximately f 4.5
Auto - via SBIG ST-237 through 10" LX-200
Conditions:    Visually clear
Weather:    60 F, still
Exposure:    180 minutes total @ ISO 800 (36 x 5 minutes) calibrated with flat frame and Master Dark frame (average combine of 9 darks)
Filters:    Baader UV/IR block
Processing:    Focused and captured with DSLRFocus.  RAW to TIFF conversion, frame calibrations, alignment, Digital Development, Adaptive Richardson_Lucy deconvolution, scaling and JPEG conversion with ImagesPlus.  Color correction with Photoshop 6.  Noise reduction with NeatImage.