Pleiades — in astronomy, in astronomy, famous open star cluster in the constellation Taurus; cataloged as M45.

The cluster consists of some 500 stars, has a diameter of 35 light-years, and is 400 light- years distant from the earth.

Six stars are easily visible to the naked eyeAlcyone (the brightest), Electra, Celaeno, Sterope, Maia, and Taygete. Known as the Seven Sisters, this group was named by the Greeks for the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione; the seventh Pleiad was, according to legend, lost or in hiding.

Many faint stars associated with the other six are visible with the telescope; one of these stars may have been much brighter and visible to the naked eye in ancient times, thus accounting for the many early references to seven stars.

The Pleiades cluster is 150 million years old, making it a young star cluster.

In Japan, the Pleiades are known as Subaru.

It is said that the Native Americans measured keenness of vision by the number of stars the viewer could see in the Pleiades.

To the Maori of New Zealand, the Pleiades are called Mataariki and their heliacal rising signifies the beginning of the new year (around June).

The Australian Aborigines believed they were a woman who had been nearly raped by Kidili, the man in the moon. Alternatively, they were seven sisters called the Makara.


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