M 45

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 Largest Image (1.1 meg)

M 45 is the open cluster of stars pictured above. The seven prominent stars give the cluster its nickname, "The Seven Sisters", or The Pleiades. In Greek mythology the Pleiades were seven sisters who were attendants of Artemis and had violet hair. M 45 has a large number of white dwarf stars. It is thought that 70% of the stars in this cluster are binaries. When M 45 was a few hundred thousand years old, it is believed to have looked similar to The Orion Nebula. A passing asteroid, 29 Amphitrite, was caught in this image at the three o'clock position (see full-sized crop below).

Constellation: Taurus
Date: 14 & 18 september 2007
Distance: 400 light years
Equipment: AP 130 with field flattener, STL11000, Mach1 GTO
Exposure: RGB: 160--120--200 minutes Astrodons, unbinned

29 Amphitrite (the series of colored dots) is 212 km in diameter.