Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Pleiades

Tonight's midnight clear sky view of the Pleiades --harbinger of the Winter season, historically, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, have served as a calendar for many civilizations. In Greek, meaning “to sail”, in the ancient Mediterranean world, the day that the Pleaides cluster first appeared in the morning sky before sunrise and announced the opening of the navigation season. 

Halloween originates from an old Druid rite that coincided with the midnight appearance of the Pleiades cluster. It was believed that the veil dividing the living from the dead is at its thinnest when the Pleaides culminates – or reaches its highest point in the sky – at midnight. 

In Greek mythology, Zeus, the ruler of the Greek gods, immortalized the sisters by placing them in the sky. There these seven stars formed the constellation known thereafter as the Pleiades.

In both myth and science, the Pleiades are considered to be sibling stars. Astronomers say the Pleiades stars were born from the same cloud of gas and dust some 100 million years ago. Many of these Pleiades stars shine hundreds of times more brightly than our sun.

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