Thursday, July 2, 2009


Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters.
(The Pleiades, visible to the naked-eye [just 430 light years away], are a 100 million year old open star cluster. They contain well over a thousand stars; the "spikes" of light surrounding the bright stars are due to the diffraction of light at the secondary mirror supports. Click on image to enlarge.)

Every Thursday, I post a very large photograph of some corner of space captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and available online from the picture album at HubbleSite.

The moon has set, and the Pleiades; it is midnight, the time is going by, and I sleep alone. ~~Fragment #52 by Sappho.


Oak said...

I have always loved the Pleiades and searched for the seven sisters in the sky. Combined with Sappho - beautiful.
It's fascinating how many cultures have origin stories connected with the Pleiades.

Maggie Jochild said...

Oak, it IS interesting how many Pleiades stories here are around the globe. The one I was told when I was little had Greek origins: There were seven young sisters, the niece of Orion. When their parents died while they were young, the sisters went to live with Orion. But he began trying to molest them, so they ran from him. He was always able to find them, however, because of his hunting dog, Hera. There was no place on earth where he could not track them down. Finally they appealed to Hera, the queen of goddesses, for protection. Because Orion was a favorite of her rotten husband, Zeus, Hera felt she could not actually strike Orion down. Instead, she offered to turn the sisters into stars and place them in the night sky, where they would be removed from earthly attacks. The sisters accepted. However, Orion was enraged by this and went to Zeus for intervention. Zeus said the best he could do was also turn Orion into a constellation. Orion, consumed by the violence of conquest, jumped at the chance. Thus it is that the Seven Sisters are eternally pursued across the heavens each night by their uncle Orion and his dog.

This story is why my incest survivor self-help group named ourselves the Pleiades.