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How to See the Pleiades With A Telescope?

The Pleiades or the Seven Sisters (M45) is an open star cluster that originated from a huge cloud of dust and gas around 125 million years ago. The stars of M45 are so bright for the high rate of fusion at the cores. However, they are located in the constellation Taurus having a distance of about 400 light years from the earth. From edge to edge, M45 spans around 40 light years in total. Among the dominating seven bright stars, 6 of them are detectable with unaided eyes. A telescope allows observing a lot more stars in this cluster. It also includes blue reflection nebulae that make the amazing bluish view.

Quick Guide to Observe the Pleiades

The Pleiades can be seen clearly in the night sky. Any star map can be used, though. The northern hemisphere’s fall and winter seasons are the finest times to observe the Pleiades. Because of its proximity to the ecliptic, the cluster may be seen from anywhere on earth. Look north at a 60-degree angle on the night that is the darkest. Low magnification and a long focal length object should be used to center the Pleiades on the finder scope.

How to find the Pleiades?

There are two options to find Pleiades, from the Northern Hemisphere and from the Southern Hemisphere:

From the Northern Hemisphere:

  1. Try to plan for observing the Pleiades in autumn and winter. They are visible from evening to dawn.
  2. Look towards the southern sky and find Orion, the Hunter about halfway between the sky and the horizon. 
  3. Spot the red-orange star Aldebaran in the northwest from Orion’s belt.
  4. Move your eyes onward to find the cluster of blue stars named the Pleiades.

From the Southern Hemisphere:

  1. Look for the seven sisters in summer or spring.
  2. Face towards the northern hemisphere.
  3. Find Orion and the stars on Orion’s belt. Follow the line leftward and find Aldebaran
  4. Follow the same lines and you will get the bluish Pleiades.

What is the best time to observe the Pleiades?

The fall and winter seasons in the northern hemisphere is the best time to view the Pleiades when you will be able to see this cluster for the whole night. It is located close to the ecliptic which made the cluster viewable from anywhere on the earth except the Antarctic circle. However, the Pleiades is seasonal, so it is above the horizon only at certain times of the day. The table below describes the best time to view this cluster in the Northern Hemisphere.

MonthRiseSetHighest
January13:0004:0020:30
February11:0002:0018:30
March10:0001:0017:30
April08:0023:0015:30
May06:0021:0013:30
June04:0019:0011:30
July02:0017:0009:30
August00:0015:0007:30
September22:0013:0005:30
October20:0011:0003:30
November17:0008:0000:30
December15:0006:0022:30

3 Tips to observe the Pleiades in the best way.

  • In winter evenings, for example in mid-November, the Pleiades is high over the east in the mid-US latitudes. The more north your position is, the lower the cluster will be in the sky, and vice versa for the south.
  • Use an aperture of F/ 2.8 – F/ 4.
  • Use a light pollution filter.

What can you see on the Pleiades with a telescope?

  • Alcyone· (Eta/ 25 Tauri)– Alcyone (Eta/ 25 Tauri) is the brightest star in the Pleiades and a multiple (four) star with magnitudes of 2.9, 6.2, 8.3, and 9.1. It is the third brightest star in Taurus.
  • Atlas (27 Tauri)– The second-brightest star is a double and glows at magnitude 3.6. Its companion is 95 ′′ away and is a modest magnitude 13.2 star.
  • Electra (17 Tauri)–The major component of this double, which shines at magnitude 3.7, is 99 inches away from the companion, which shines at magnitude 13.0.
  • Maia (20 Tauri)– The fourth-brightest Pleiad is magnitude 3.9 and has a partner that is magnitude 13.7 113 inches distant.
  • Merope (23 Tauri)– Another bright· star· with a faint· companion . Separated by 110 ″ , the two· stars shine· at magnitude· 4.2 and 14.4 respectively
  • Taygeta (19 Tauri)– Yet another brilliant star with a dim companion. The two stars are 110 ′′ apart and light at magnitudes 4.2 and 14.4, respectively.
  • Pleione (28 Tauri)–This star, which glows at magnitude 5.1, is the seventh-brightest in the Pleiades. Yes, it does have a partner as well. The B star is 12.0 magnitude, 168 arcseconds away from the A star.
  • Celaeno (16 Tauri)– In this system, there are also two stars that are 88 ′′ apart from one another. Magnitude 5.5 for the brighter object and magnitude 13.2 for the less brilliant object.
  • Sterope, Asterope (21 & 22 Tauri)– This ninth-brightest Pleiad, sometimes called as Sterope or Asterope, offers a full house of doubles. The two components are 150 arcseconds distant and both bright, at magnitudes 5.8 and 6.4, respectively.

What telescope to see the Pleiades?

Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 80AZ, Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ, Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ are great telescopes to see the Pleiades. A list of telescopes has more telescope options that can see the Pleiades very clearly.

What size telescope to see the Pleiades?

You can see the Pleiades very well via a 70mm telescope. The views and details are better and crisper the larger the aperture.

What magnification is required to see the Pleiades?

A 50x magnification is sufficient to display the entire Pleiades. To observe the details, 150x magnification is preferable. The Pleiades can withstand high magnification better than any other starry object. Additionally, it lessens the Pleiades’ glare. Most observers prefer a lower magnification, but if you have an eyepiece with a large field of vision, you can increase this. It’s likely that the starfield you’ll witness will make you gasp for air.

Enjoying the Pleiades? Here are other things to see with your telescope.

The wonders of the dark night sky can be seen through a telescope. The telescope you use to observe the Pleiades can show you the details of other night sky objects like Mercury, Venus, asteroids, Meteor Showers, and more. If you want to observe them, you can go through ‘List of things to see with a telescope’ which provides a shortlist of several night sky objects you can observe with different telescopes.

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