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(IAAC) Obj: M 45 (Pleiades) - Inst: 7x35 binoculars



Observer: Lew Gramer
Your skills: Intermediate
Date and UT of Observation: 1997-12-25/26, 01:00 UT
Location: Medford, MA, USA (42N)
Site classification: suburban
Limiting magnitude: 5.1 (zenith)
Seeing: 7 of 10 - good
Moon up: no
Instrument: 7x35 handheld Tasco binoculars
Magnification: 7x
Filters used: None
Object: M45 (Pleiades or Seven Sisters)
Category: Open Cluster [I,3,r,n]
Constellation: Tau
Data: mag 1.2  size 110'
RA/DE: 03h47m  +24o07m
Description:
This Christmas night I managed to catch a few moments of cloudless
darkness in the backyard with the little binoculars, before we set
off to see that cheery Holiday movie "Titanic"(!) Though the stars
of 1990s Medford can hardly compare to those of the desolate 1910s
North Atlantic, the views were nonetheless a thrilling gift for me.
The "Named Nine" stars of the Pleiades were immediate and striking
in my arm-steadied 4o field, with Atlas and Pleione separated wide,
and Pleione appearing somewhat brighter than normal at the moment?
The tiny, distinctive double at the center of the "bowl" was not at
all resolvable. But the companion to Alcyone was fairly easy when
I took steadying deep breaths for a moment, and Asterope was easily
split without real effort. M 45 stands out best in very wide-field
views like this one, looking much like a pile of white jewels placed
on a velvet cloth. In a very brief respite from tonight's persistent
cloudiness and light pollution-disturbed haze, I easily counted at
least 35 stars in clear association with the central cluster. That
was in addition to a lovely string of five mag. 8 stars trailing SE
out of the "bowl", which I had somehow never noted before in smaller
(1o - 2o) fields of view, and had certainly never managed naked eye!
At some future time, under a MUCH darker sky, I hope to snag some of
M45's fabled reflection (and dark!) nebulosity in just binocs... :)