Photo of the Week for December 28, 2018
The Pleiades cluster is unquestionably one of the finest deep-sky objects in the entire heavens. Also known as the Seven Sisters and catalogued as M45, the cluster can be enjoyed with the naked eye or, even better, in binoculars.
The finest view, though, is in a rich-field telescope capable of delivering a true field of two degrees or greater. Long-exposure photographs, such as the one presented below, show the cluster stars enmeshed in a diaphanous cloud. This haze isn’t simply material left over from the formation of the Pleiades, rather, it’s a patch of interstellar dust that the cluster happens to be moving through.
Haneytown, New Brunswick, astrophotographer Scott Champion captured this exquisitely detailed photo of the Seven Sisters with an Explore Scientific ES 102ED apochromatic refractor telescope (fitted with a Stellarvue 0.8× focal reducer for a working f-ratio of f/5.6) riding on an iOptron CEM60 equatorial mount. He used an Atik 383L+ monochromatic CCD camera shooting through Baader Planetarium filters to acquire a total of 180 minutes exposure data for this image.