Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

September 3, 1996
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The Pleiades Star Cluster
Credit: Photograph made from plates taken with the UK Schmidt Telescope. Color photography by David Malin. Copyright: Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, Anglo-Australian Observatory

Explanation: It is the most famous star cluster on the sky. The Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and most easily visible open clusters on the sky. The Pleiades contains over 3000 stars, is about 400 light years away, and only 13 light years across. Quite evident in the above photograph is the blue reflection nebula that surrounds the bright cluster stars. Low mass, faint, brown dwarfs have recently been found in the Pleiades.

Tomorrow's picture: IRTF: Scanning the Infrared Skies

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