Astronomy Viewing the Pleiades in June

Pleiades, a star cluster found in the constellation Taurus, is known as the seven sisters in Greek mythology. Pleiades produces its most brilliant display in the month of June, making it the ideal month to view Pleiades with the unaided eye.

Greek mythology, Japanese culture, Native American lore, third world countries and even the Old Testament of the Bible have references to Pleiades. This star cluster has a place in many civilizations and cultures. In addition to Greek mythology, for some cultures, the rising of Pleiades marks the beginning of a new year while others look to the heavens to determine when the rainy season will begin.

Six stars in the Pleiades star cluster are usually visible, but more may be seen on clear and dark nights. The entire star cluster is made of about 500 stars that move together in a cloak of blue nebulae. This month in June, four planets, Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter, will take center stage in the heavens along with Pleiades for an even more spectacular display in the month of June.

Japan named a car (Subaru) in honor of Pleiades complete with a logo that bears seven stars. The American Indian Sioux tribe has a legend that ties Pleiades to Devils Tower in Wyoming.

The Andean farmers look to the Pleiades in June to determine the best time to plant the potato crop. If the clusters are bright and large, they believe the rainy season will come at the regular time. If the clusters appear dim and small, they plant their crop later. Scientific research has verified that the farmers were accurate in planting their potato crop by the star gazing method. The Andean farmer’s success rate is better than farmers in the U.S. who don’t use star gazing methods for planting crops.

On June 13, 2007 viewers in the western United States will be able to see the rising of Pleiades at dawn. In fact, the entire month of June brings a brilliant display of beauty for all star gazers.

Resources: _June_2007