M45 = Pleiades ( 3h 47.0m +24°07´, 1.2 mag. )
Pleiades were known since antiquity and featured in (among others) Greek myths. Messier included this nearby open cluster in Taurus in his catalogue anyway - he listed it on March 4, 1769. Located 407 ly away, the group measueres about 30 ly across. M45 is passing through the area of space containing fillements of dust (probably aligned in magnetic field) which scatter starlight. Resulting reflection nebula is brightest around Merope ( lower left from center ) - this region is called Merope Nebula (NGC1435).
Pleiades are visible as a tight group of stars about 14° NW of Aldebaran (a Tauri - see map of Taurus).
The above image was taken with Cookbook 245 LDC CCD camera attached to a 135mm f4 lens on Feb.13, 1999 from Sooke, BC. Ten unfiltered exposures (30 sec. each) were combined using AIP4WIN.
North is to the right.
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© Jan Wisniewski