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.

October 18, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

The Pleiades Star Cluster
Credit & Copyright: D. Malin (AAO), AATB, ROE, UKS Telescope

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 closest open clusters. The Pleiades contains over 3000 stars, is about 400 light years away, and only 13 light years across. Quite evident in the above photograph are the blue reflection nebulae that surround the bright cluster stars. Low mass, faint, brown dwarfs have recently been found in the Pleiades.

Tomorrow's picture: The Heart Of NGC 4261

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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&: Michigan Tech. U.