Star Clusters

What is—or what are—the Pleiades?

The Pleiades is an open cluster about four hundred light-years from Earth. It contains dozens of stars, of which the seven brightest (named Alcyone, Atlas, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta, and Pleione) are readily visible to the naked eye. The stars are embedded in a small but bright reflection nebula, which makes this open cluster particularly easy to see. The Pleiades is also known as the Seven Sisters in Europe and America, and has inspired the sky-lore and legend of many ancient cultures.


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