Your Night Sky: Mars and the Pleiades


Daylight Saving Time started Sunday, March 14, so now the sky stays light an hour longer, and morning stays dark an hour longer. Spring starts March 20, but we still may get more snow. Never a dull moment! I love snow, and we can always use it.

On March 19, Mars moves away from the Pleiades Star Cluster, and joins up with the moon. The new moon was on the 13th, and the first quarter will be on the 21st, with the full moon on the 28th. So now you'll be able to observe them together.

When you spotted the bright red Mars, did you see the Pleiades, Seven Sisters? When you first see it, they look like a little cloud. But then they clear out and you can see at least 6 of the stars. This cluster is a group of stars moving together in space about 400 light years from us.

It's the most famous and impressive naked-eye star cluster in our sky. They're believed to be hot young stars about 500 million years old. Yes, it takes a while for stars to grown. With binoculars you can see about 50 stars. With a telescope you may be able to see all 500 of them.

Legend has it that the sisters were trying to flee from Orion. The gods took pity on the sisters and turned them into doves. So, they flew away from Orion and landed up in the sky where they sit today. They have nine named stars. The Seven Sisters all have names, and their parents are Atlas and Pleione.

To find the Seven Sisters M45, use Orion's Belt as a pointer. To the right of Orion is the constellation Taurus the Bull which the Seven Sisters are part of. So, look from Orion to Taurus and just look a little past its main part to find the Pleiades. It's about 35 degrees past Orion.

Taurus is a bull heading toward Orion, and its brightest star is Aldebaran It's one of the oldest constellations in our sky. The Seven Sisters are some of the brightest stars in this constellation. Another object you would have seen is the Tauris meteor shower in November. It radiates just south of the Pleiades. So, go out and explore the sky.