Pleiades is a group of stars that have become known by many civilizations throughout history. Many references to this group of stars involved agriculture or rain. Ancient civilizations began to notice that the Pleiades signaled the beginning of the rain season and the brightness of the stars actually indicated how much rain they should expect. Surprisingly, the inferences made by farmer’s years ago are actually maintained today by scientists. The brightness of the stars actually ties in to atmospheric conditions related to El Nino.
These stars are believed to be a group of at least two hundred and fifty stars that are only 100 million years old which is quite young in comparison to the sun. The sun is an impressive 4.5 billion years. In addition, it is believed that if these stars were as near to the earth as the sun, some may be up to one 1000 times brighter than the sun. Conversely, if the sun were as far away as the stars that form Pleiades it would barely be visible from Earth. However, the Seven Sisters are many light years away, but are still an impressive sight.
This June will be a busy month for adamant star watchers. Several planets will make their way across the sky along with the Seven Sisters. Pleiades should be visible on the morning of June 13th. Look for the star cluster near a the crescent moon. When viewing these stars make sure you are prepared to get the most out of your viewing. Binoculars may be a little better than a telescope, because Pleiades is a group of stars and binoculars may help you keep all of them in view simultaneously. However, if you choose to use a telescope make sure you use the lowest power so you can keep them all in view. Be careful not to mistake the Pleiades for the Littler Dipper; they have a similar shape. However, the Pleiades should be distinguishable because of its blue reflection nebula. With a little research and a lot of patience hopefully you will have the privilege of viewing the brilliant cluster.
Watching the heavens and all of the celestial bodies in the sky can be a very humbling experience. It makes one think of how small our own world is in comparison to the grand scheme of things. Nonetheless, there are few wonders on our own planet that can match the mystical beauty found in the heavens.
Perhaps Alfred Tennyson put it best when he penned:
Many a night I saw the Pleiades,
rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire flies
tangled in a silver braid.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson