|M45 "Pleiades": Open Star Cluster (Taurus) RA: 03h 47.5m / DEC: +24° 06'.3|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
A sisterly cluster of stars called the Pleiades is the crown jewel of the winter sky. M45 is unquestionably the easiest Messier object to see without optical aid. It's the brilliant cluster to the north and west of the V-shaped Hyades in Taurus. The Pleiades are a fine sight in a rich field telescope. The TeleVue 32 mm Plossl produces 36X over a 1.4-degree true field in my 10-inch, just right for this stunning cluster. My sketch records 68 stars ranging from 3rd to 11th magnitude. Many fainter stars are visible but would simply have cluttered the final product. The brightest members of the cluster are shrouded in nebulosity. The delicate Merope nebula extends south from 23 Tauri almost to the edge of the field. This is a fine binocular object that, to the uninitiated, is sometimes mistaken for the Big Dipper.
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Revised: February 10, 2002 [WDF]