Starry Sky Austin

What Stars Do I See Tonight? The Pleiades Cluster

March 14, 2017 Uncategorized 0

The Pleiades Cluster is seen from fall to spring. Most people see 6 to 7 bright stars in a tight bunch. Some think they look like a little dipper, and so it gets mistaken for Ursa Minor, our little dipper, often. The Pleiades are a group of over 2,000 stars, all born from the same cloud of gas. They are called an open cluster.

Many cultures all over the world found them important. Some cultures watched the Pleiades to know when to plant and harvest.  When they were setting in the western sky in the spring, it was time to plant. When they started to rise in the easter sky in the fall, it was time to harvest.

The Japanese call them “Subaru”, just like the car. They see them as a group of doves. They are also known as “The 7 Sisters” according to Greek mythology or, “The Onion Women” from the Mono Tribe of central California. The Polynesians call them “Mata-Riki” or “Little Eyes”. According to the Polynesians, they used to be one star and made the brightest star in the sky. They were tricked by Sirius and Aldebaran who were jealous of the brightest star in the sky. Tane, a sky god, hurled Aldebaran at the bright star and broke it into six pieces.  Sirius now reigns over the winter sky as the brightest star with Aldebaran close behind.