Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home  |   Ask an Astrophysicist  |  
Ask an Astrophysicist

The Question

(Submitted January 27, 1998)

Where are the Pleiades located in the sky and the myths that go along with their formation?

The Answer

The Pleiades are a group of bright white stars that are in the constellation of Taurus. You can find them by following the belt of Orion through a reddish star called Aldebaran. To help find Orion and other constellations see:

http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/constellations/constellations.html

and

Sky & Telescope gives maps of the sky for each month:

http://skyandtelescope.com/

As for myths, I know that in Greek mythology the Pleiades are the seven sisters who are pursued by Orion. Also in Hindu mythology they are the wives of the seven sages. Either because of their bright white color or some cross-talk between different cultures they have acquired a female set of myths.

Stepping outside the classical mythology, there are loads of stories about the Pleiades! For instance, the following is from the Monache Indians in central California. A group of women who love onions more than their husbands enter the sky to become the Pleiades. Their husbands pursue them and become the constellation Taurus. One source for Native American stories about the Pleiades is the book, "They Dance in the Sky" by Jean Monroe and Ray Williamson. Once again it is interesting that these stars are connected with women.

Enjoy,

Jeff Silvis and Jim Lochner
For Ask an Astrophysicist

Questions on this topic are no longer responded to by the "Ask an Astrophysicist" service. See http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/ask_an_astronomer.html for help on other astronomy Q&A services.

Previous question
Prev
Main topic
Main
Next question
Next

If words seem to be missing from the articles, please read this.

Imagine the Universe! is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
Curator: Meredith Gibb
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2014.
This page last updated: Thursday, 01-Dec-2005 13:58:37 EST