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Observations and Descriptions
Known pre-historically. Mentioned by Homer about 750 B.C. and by Hesiod
about 700 B.C.
Observing Reports for M45 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)
- March 4, 1769. 45.
3h 33m 48s (53d 27' 04") +23d 22' 41"
A cluster of stars, known by the name of the Pleiades. The position
reported is that of the star Alcyone.
[Mem. Acad. for 1771, p. 451-452 (first Messier catalog)]
One can say the same [as for M44] for the Pleiades,
by reporting their position by that of the star Eta, with its right ascension
becoming, for March 4, 1769, 53d 27' 4", & its declination 23d 22' 41"
1769.Mar. 4. RA: 53.27. 4, Dec: 23.22.41.B.
Cluster of stars known by the name Pleiades: the position reported is that
of the star Alcyone.
[Messier reports to have measured the stars of the Pleiades in 1785, 1790, and
[1.] The first, and the most lumious of all assemblies of stars, shines in the
belly of Taurus; six, or seven stars are most evident, before many others,
[counted 37 stars]
- A wellknown cluster of small stars.
[Position of Alcyone in the Pleiades in Taurus]
- Bode (1782):
- [From: Vorstellung der Gestirne auf XXXIV Kupfertafeln (Introduction to the
Stars on 34 Copper Plates), 1782.]
[Ch. 14, p. 17]
No. 15 to 28 are the stars of the Pleiades.
The Pleiades are represented on the 14th plate at the right, by the
28 stars of Flamsteed, T. Mayer & le Monnier. On the 1st figure
of the 30th plate, there are also the stars from 203 to 242, with diverse
others which have been observed by the Abbé Outhier; these
are those which I have increased the Pleiades to a number of 120 stars.
[Plate XXX, p. 38]
The Seven Sisters or the Pleiades in the Bull, consisting of
about 120 stars, which have been observed in them by Flamsteed,
le Monnier, T. Mayer and the Abbot Outhier, and are
visible through telescopes. The most considerable of them are annoted with
letters according to Flamsteed. After the fables of the poets the Pleiades
were the seven daughters of Atlas and of Pleione, and from these [fables],
nine stars of them have got the following names from this family, namely:
g. Celano. c. Maia. f. Atlas.
b. Electra. d. Merope. h. Pleione.
e. Taygeta. Eta. Alcyone. k. & l. Asterope 1. and 2.
CXLII (142). Eta Tauri.
- [Smyth has separate entries for 4 individual stars in the Pleiades, but
describes the cluster under the star Eta Tauri. The four separate entries are
CXXXVIII. 19 Pleiadum (Taygeta), CXXXIX. 15 Pleiadum (of mag 8),
CXL. 23 Pleiadum (Merope), and CXLIV. 27 Pleiadum (Atlas)]
CXLII. Eta Tauri.
AR 3h 37m 59s, Dec N 23d 36'.3
Mean Epoch of Observation: 1836.97 [Dec 1836]
Alcyone, a Greenwich star, with a distant companion, in the midst of the
Pleiades, called by the Arabians Jauza, the wall-nut, and
Neyyir, bright, or lucida [the brightest] of the Pleiades.
A 3 [mag], greenish yellow; B 7, pale white. Piazzi marked this "duplex,"
but the comes could only be 151 P. III.; and a reduction from his mean
apparent places, and the micrometrical measures of Sir John South, afford
P. Pos. 288d 00' Dist. 122".50 Ep. 1800
S. 288d 42' 116".40 1824
which, considering that A is chargeable with a small proper motion both in AR
abd declination, is very consistent with more recent observations. The other
two small stars in the same, or np [north preceding, NW] quadrant,
form the "binae ad boream" mentioned in 150 P. III; and were also measured by
S. The proper motions alluded to, are thus valued:
P. .... AR -0".04 Dec -0".09
S. .... +0".06 -0".05
This star has usually been considered as the one described under the 32nd of
Taurus, in Ptolemy, and there marked Epsilon in brightness. But Mr. Baily
says, "I don't think this star can be Eta Tauri, on account of its magnitude:
yet it is singular that the brightest star in the pleiades should not have
been noticed by Ptolemy (*)."
The occultation of this star, and h Pleiadum, by the dark limb of the
Moon, were well observed on the 19th March, 1839, by my [Smyth's] excellent
friend Lord Chief Justice Tindal; who thus elegantly occupied the evening of
a tedious assize-day at Bedford. The observations were made with the
8 1/2-foot equatorial, charged with an eye-piece magnifying ninety-three
The Pleiades constitute a celebrated group of stars, or miniature
constellation, on the shoulders of Taurus; their popular influences have been
said and sung for many years. Hesiod mentions them as the Seven Virgins,
"of Atlas born;" and in the ancient M.S. of Cicero's Aratus, in the
British Museum, they are finely represented by female heads, inscribed
Merope, Alcyone, Celaeno, Electra, Taygeta, Asterope, and Maia, under the
general title Atlantides, - while the illustrations to Julius
Firmicius in 1497, represents them as well-grown women. The moral may be,
that Atlas himself first rigidly observed these stars, and named them after
his daughters.But various are the appellations under which they have been
known. THeon liked them to a bunch of grapes; Aratos says they were called
Eptaporoi; Manilius clusters them as glomerabile sidus; the
Arabs said they were Ath-thurayya, or the little ones; the French
designate them as poussinière; the Germans, gluckhenne,
the Italians knew them as le gallinelle; the Spaniards term them the
cabrillas, or little manny-goats, which is the key of the Duke's query
to sancho; and several schools called them brood-hen, under the
representation of a hen with chickens. There has also been much discussion as
to the number of the individuals in the group, some of the ancients having
advanced that there were seven, and others resolving to count six, in the
spirit of Ovid's oft-cited
Quae septem dici, sex tamen esse solent.
The "lost Pleiad" is however, rather a poetical than an exact expression, for
in moonless nights I never had any difficulty in counting seven stars in the
so-called Hexastron, with the naked eye; and indeed this is nothing to boast
of, for many people may enumerate even more, though few will equal with
Maestlinus, the discoverer of the new star of 1604, who, as Kepler
avers, could distinctly see fourteen stars in the Pleiades, without any
glasses. Still, if we admit the influence of variability at long periods, the
seven in number may have occasionally been more distinct; so that while Homer
and Attalus speak of six of them, Hipparchus and Aratus may properly mention
seven. But they have a singular brilliant light for their magnitudes, whence
the unassisted eye becomes dazzled. The ancients allotted to them only seven
stars; but in modern catalogues, their numbers have run thus:
Kepler . . . . 32 stars Hook . . . . . 78 stars
Galileo . . . . 36 Jeaurat . . . . 103
De la Hire . . . 64 F. de Rheita . . 188
And the zealous amateur may be assured, that there are yet many recruits for
him who will undertake an exact chart of them, the which is still a
desideratum, the cluster being directly in the Moon's path, and therefore the
site of abundance of occultations. This part formerly constituted the Third
Lunar Mansion; and is so generally known, that is, alineation need hardly be
pointed out; yet it may be added, that an imaginary line through the wain of
the Great Bear, passing Capella, leads to the Pleiades; or, from the
southwest, a line from Sirius, carried over Orion's belt, meets them.
- John Herschel, General Catalogue:
The Pleiades are not in the GC catalog, however, the first discovered nebula
around Merope is:
- GC 768 = Auwers N. 18:
RA 3h 37m 52.3s, NPD 66d 40' 12.9" (1860.0)
[Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
!!! B; vL; iF; VAR. (Tempel).
0 observations by W. & J. Herschel.
Magnificient, bright; very large; irregular figure; variable
Remark: GC 768 = Auwers N. 18. The celebrated variable nebula of Tempel,
discovered Oct. 19, 1859.
The Pleiades are not in the NGC or IC catalog, however some of the
nebulosities within them are:
- NGC 1432, [discovered by] Henry:
RA 3h 37m 30s, NPD 66d 5' (1860.0)
eF, vL, dif (Maia Pleiadum)
Extremely faint, very large, diffuse (around Maia, in the Pleiades).
Remark: Figures in Henry [Rapp. d. l'Obs. de Paris, 1884];
O. Struve [A.N. cxiv (114)] p. 97;
Spitaler [A.N. cxiv (114)] p. 209;
Roberts [Journ. Liv. A.S. v (5)] p. 148.
- NGC 1435 = GC 768, Tempel:
RA 3h 37m 52s, NPD 66d 40' (1860.0)
[Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
vF, vL, dif (Merope)
Very faint, very large, diffuse (around Merope).
Remark: Figures in Tempel [Publ. d. R. Oss. di Milano, No, 5] plate II;
Tempel [M.N. xl (40)] p. 622;
C. Wolf [Ann. d. l'Obs. de Paris, xiv (14)];
M. Hall [M.N. xl (40)] p. 169;
Common [M.N. xl (40)] p. 376;
Roberts [Journ. Liv. A.S. v (5)] p. 148.
- IC 349, Barnard (AN 3018):
RA 3h 37m 55s, NPD 66d 41m (1860.0)
eF, vS, pos 165deg, dist 36" from Merope
extremely faint, very small, lying at position angle 165 degrees and
distance 36" from Merope.
RA 03:41. , Dec +23:48 (1900.), Diam 120';
class D3 [Coarse, irregular, stars of different magnitudes (cluster)],
B1 [Large, diffused, irregular (nebula)]
! Cluster, well known cluster of bright stars, not given in the N.G.C.
Pleiades. The number of stars which really belong to this cluster
is doubtful. Several thousand stars have been photographed in this region,
but there is no proof that many of these belong to the cluster, since even
this large number is no greater, if, indeed, it is as great, as that in an
equal area of the surrounding regions. Apparently the cluster itself
consists of a few bright stars.
Plate I, Figure 1. The Pleiades.
The original photograph shows faintly and brighter nebulosities, but a much
longer exposure is needed with the Bruce telescope to show them to good
advantage. See Mem. Acad. Amer. Acad. 11, 224. The area shown in this, and
in each of the following three figures is a triffle more than two square
- [Descriptions of 762 Nebulae and Clusters photographed with the Crossley
Reflector. Publ. Lick Obs., No. 13, Part I, p. 9-42]
...., RA= 3:41 , Dec=+24:..
The Pleiades. L.O. Publ., Vol. VIII, Plate 8. 0 s.n.
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Last Modification: February 5, 2005