The Pleiades

Since the full moon was on Jan. 17, the last quarter moon is on Jan. 25, and the new moon will be on Feb. 1. We're getting close to being able to observe the sky. Unfortunately, when Venus got low in the sky and Mercury was visible also low in the sky, I couldn’t see them because of the mountains covering them. But I loved observing Venus when she was so high and bright.

But now some of the planets are visible in the morning before the sun comes up. You'll need to look in the southeast before 6 a.m. The moon, Venus and Mars are all there. So, the moon will be in the right. When you find the moon, look a little to the left and slightly higher to see Mars. Venus is 13 degrees to the left of Mars. The constellation Sagittarius is just below them.

In the evening, the Pleiades is visible to the unaided eye, but with binoculars, you'll see a lot more. It's also known as the Seven Sisters, and you'll see seven with unaided vision. The reason it's visible is that it's only 445 light-years away, making it relatively close to us. There are at least 200 stars, and maybe even 1,000.  So, if you look with binos, you'll see a lot more.

To find them, first look for the constellation Orion in the SE. When you see his three-star belt, look to the right. His belt raises a little to our right, so the Pleiades is a little higher than him. You'll first see the constellation Taurus the Bull. About 10 degrees past Taurus, you will find the Pleiades. It's about 35 degrees past Orion's belt to the Seven Sisters. They're high in the sky during fall and winter.

Ancient Greeks thought the group of stars resembled the outline of a dove in the sky. Legend says that Orion was after them, and they were getting away from him. So, they flew away and landed to the east of him.

When you first see it, it looks like a little cloud, but then you can see up to 7 stars. It's a large group of stars moving together in space. They're most likely young hot stars. With binos, you'll see up to 50 stars. With a telescope, you can see 500 of them. So, have fun looking for them!


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