Weekly Psalm 19: The Pleiades

Here is your weekly reminder of Psalm 19 — the Pleiades.

Pleiades_large

The Pleiades star cluster. Credit: NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory.

The Pleiades is an open cluster of stars that forms an asterism — a recognizable pattern of stars — in the sky. The cluster is about 440 light-years from Earth, making it close enough and large enough to be easily observed with the naked eye. It’s also quite lovely through a good pair of binoculars.

The Pleiades is known by many different names, including the Maia Nebula and the Seven Sisters. In Japan, it’s known as Subaru. (You probably recognize the asterism in a certain car company logo now.)

These large, hot stars are relatively young at just 100 million years (our own Sun is 4.5 billion years old), but are already halfway through their main stage of life. The general principle with stars is that the bigger and more luminous the star, the faster it lives.

The cluster is currently passing through a cloud of dusty gas. The light from the stars reflects and scatters off the dust, creating the ethereal glowing wisps surrounding the stars.

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