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.
2002 January 18
Explanation: Last November, while skygazing toward the constellation Taurus, astrophotographer Joe Orman arranged this time exposure to include the lovely Hyades and Pleiades star clusters in the field of his telephoto lens. A distance of 400 light-years for the close-knit Pleiades and 150 light-years for the V-shaped Hyades puts these clusters in the general galactic neighborhood of the Sun. Punctuating the Hyades' appearance, bright yellow Aldebaran, 60 light-years away, is not actually a member of the cluster, but it is Taurus' brightest star. Above Aldebaran a yellower, even brighter Saturn is is seen about 1.2 light-hours from our fair planet. Last and least massive, one of the faint specks below Aldebaran is main-belt asteroid Vesta, a mere 13 light-minutes away. Still cruising through Taurus, Vesta is steadily approaching a close alignment or conjunction with Saturn on March 19. Need a program to follow the players? Click on the image for a labeled version.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.