The Pleiades (M45) in Taurus Picture

This is data that had been sitting on my hard drive, neglected, for five years. Shot in August 2010, on a DSLR, this was quite low on the horizon and the image shows it; there's an abundance of noise exacerbated via stretching. I thought I'd attempt a process on it as I was out early one morning last week and I saw these gems sparkling in the north-eastern sky. I look forward to re-imaging them this year with the CCD camera.

The Pleiades (Seven Sisters in Greek mythology) are the most famous of all the open star clusters. Approximately 500 stars adorn the black velvet sky. This first magnitude cluster is quite young and is easily visible to the naked eye. It somewhat resembles a smaller version of the Big Dipper. At least 6 hot blue stars are readily visible; those with trained eyes can see more.

Because of its large diameter (2 degrees), M45 is best seen in binoculars, or through a medium focal length telescope. A faint veil of nebulosity surrounds the brighest stars in the Pleiades, with the most easily seen patch being the Merope Nebula (IC 349), which surrounds the star Merope.

These reflection nebulae are not remnants of the gas cloud where the Pleiades were born, rather, they are just passing through interstellar dust and cloud.

The major stars which comprise the Pleiades have some beautiful names (Seven Sisters); Maia, Taygeta, Merope, Alcyone, Electra, Asterope and Celaeno.

In some ancient cultures, people would engage in ceremonies to honour the dead when the Pleiades had reached the highest point in the sky at midnight. Ancient Aztecs believed the Pleiades would be overhead at midnight the day the world would end.

This composite consists of one set of images; one set of 40 images taken at ISO-1600.
Each individual image was a 300 second exposure.
PixInsight was used to calibrate each image (dark subtraction [median combined master dark] and flat field division [median combined master flat {lights and darks}]), to register, align, stack, white balance, and stretch.
Photoshop CC was used to adjust levels, curves, saturation, colour balance, local contrast, sharpen, miscellaneous editing, and resize the final composite.

Target: Pleiades (M45) in Taurus
Date: August 7th and 9th, 2010
Location: Manar, NSW, Australia
Camera: Canon EOS-5D Mark II
Telescope: Takahashi FSQ-106N
Focal length: 530mm
Mount: Losmandy G-11 (Gemini)
Guiding: Meade DSI-C through Takahashi FS-60CB
Exposure: 40 x 300 seconds (3 hours 20 minutes) @ ISO-1600 (RAW)
Software: Canon EOS Utility: capture and framing; PHD Guiding: autoguiding; PixInsight: calibration, registration, stacking, stretching; Adobe Photoshop CC: post-processing
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