The first round of Smithsonian’s Summer Showdown ends today! Did you vote for our Galileo letter yet? Not any ordinary letter, he describes a water-clock driven by a mysterious magnetic force and references his house arrest and the Inquisition’s restrictions on his movements and publications. Obviously it is the Most Seriously Amazing history object in the showdown.

And speaking of Galileo - the gif above is based on an illustration of the Pleiades in The Starry Messenger (Sidereus Nuncius). This year (2015) should be a great viewing of the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on August 13th, just before the new moon!

Seven Sisters: Pleiades

The Seven Sisters, also called the Pleiades or M45, is an open star cluster located about 400 light years away towards the constellation Taurus. It is about 13 light years across and is one of the brightest and closest star clusters to us.

The cluster contains over 3000 stars, most of which are considered middle aged. Surrounding the brighter stars are reflection nebulae, gas and dust reflecting the light from the stars. Also buried in the cluster are faint, low mass brown dwarf stars.

Image from National Geographic, information from NASA.

The Pleiades

Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters. The Pleiades contains over 3000 stars, is about 400 light years away, and only 13 light years across. Quite evident in the above photograph are the blue reflection nebulae that surround the brighter cluster stars. Low mass, faint, brown dwarfs have also been found in the Pleiades.

Image credit: Marco Lorenzi

Recommended Reading: The Pleiades & The Pleiadians

The Alchemy of Nine Dimensions - Barbara Hand Clow

ALCHERINGA - When the first ancestors were created - Valerie Barrow

Ancient Aliens In Australia: Pleiadian Origins of Humanity - Bruce Fenton

Bringers of the Dawn: Teachings from the Pleiadians - Barbara Marciniak

Comes the Awakening : Realizing the Divine Nature of Who You Are (A Pleiadian Book) - Lia Shapiro

Conversations with Laarkmaa: A Pleiadian View of the New Reality - Pia Smith Orleane

Earth: Pleiadian Keys to the Living Library - Barbara Marciniak

Encounter in the Pleiades - Peter Moon

Family of Light: Pleiadian Tales and Lessons in Living - Barbara Marciniak

Garden of Unknowable Things: A Renegade Pleiadian Lexicon - Maryann Rada

The Great Human Potential: Walking in one’s own light - Teachings from the Pleiades and the Hathors - Wendy Kennedy & Tom Kenyon

Heart of the Christos: Starseeding from the Pleiades - Barbara Hand Clow

Opalescence: The Pleiadian Renegade Guide to Divinity - Maryann Rada

Path of Empowerment: New Pleiadian Wisdom for a World in Chaos - Barbara Marciniak

The Pleiadian Agenda: A New Cosmology for the Age of Light - Barbara Hand Clow

The Pleiadians Files: Hidden and Ancient Records - Dace Fitzgerald Allen

The Pleiadian House of Initiation: A Journey through the Rooms of the Wisdomkeepers - Mary T. Beben

Pleiadian Initiations of Light: A Guide to Energetically Awaken You to the Pleiadian Prophecies for Healing and Resurrection - Christine Day

The Pleiadian Mission: A Time of Awareness - Randolph Winters

Pleiadian Perspectives on Human Evolution - Amorah Quan Yin

Pleiadian Principles for Living: A Guide to Accessing Dimensional Energies, Communicating With the Pleiadians, and Navigating These Changing Times - Christine Day

The Pleiadian Tantric Workbook: Awakening Your Divine Ba - Amorah Quan Yin

The Pleiadian Workbook: Awakening Your Divine Ka - Amorah Quan Yin

Remembering Who We Are: Laarkmaa’s Guidance on Healing the Human Condition - Pia Smith Orleane

The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades: Stories from Around the World - Munya Andrews

Image Credit: NASA

Click Here For More Recommended Reading Lists

Ghostly Reflections in the Pleiades

This image shows a dark interstellar cloud ravaged by the passage of Merope, one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades star cluster. Just as a torch beam bounces off the wall of a cave, the star is reflecting light from the surface of pitch-black clouds of cold gas laced with dust. As the nebula approaches Merope, the strong starlight shining on the dust decelerates the dust particles. The nebula is drifting through the cluster at a relative speed of roughly 11 kilometres per second.

The Hubble Space Telescope has caught the eerie, wispy tendrils of a dark interstellar cloud being destroyed by the passage of one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades star cluster. Like a flashlight beam shining off the wall of a cave, the star is reflecting light off the surface of pitch black clouds of cold gas laced with dust. These are called reflection nebulae.

Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA), George Herbig and Theodore Simon (University of Hawaii).