In Greek myth the Hyades were daughters of Atlas, son of the Titan Iapetos, and the Oceanid Aithra. They were half sisters of the Pleiades (also fathered by Atlas). When their brother, Hyas, was killed in a hunt, the Hyades died of grief and the Pleiades died mourning their half-sisters. Zeus took pity on them all and placed them close by in the sky.
The Hyades is the closest open cluster to the sun and spans such a large region of sky that its nature as a cluster is not obvious. It could not be confused with a comet so Messier did not include it in his famous catalogue, nor does it have an NGC number. Its members are distinguished by having very similar proper motions and chemical composition. Its distance has been measured by three different methods and they agree at 47 parsecs or 153 light years. The age is estimated as 625 million years. The main part of the cluster has a diameter 17.6 light years (5.4 parsecs) but at least a third of the confirmed members of the cluster are well outside this region.
|This is a wide-angled picture having a width of 12°. Move your mouse pointer over the image to see the designations of the major stars. All these are part of the cluster except α, Aldebaran, which is much closer to us and happens to be in the same direction. Stars θ1 and θ2 are very close together as are σ1 and σ2, so I have used a single letter (θ or σ) to avoid congestion; in each case star 1 is the northern (upper) one.
Date and Time: 5th November 2016 at 22:09 to 22:13 UT
Camera: Canon 1100D
Telescope: Canon 70-300mm lens at 70 mm, f/5
Capture: Exposure 30 sec, ISO 6400
Processing: PhotoImpact. Reduction in size to fit this page, removal of background light pollution, and rotation to put north at the top.
|This is a closer picture covering only the main part of the cluster. The width of the picture is 7°. Move your mouse pointer over the picture to see the designations of the stars and an indication of the boundary. However not all the stars within the circle are part of the cluster. In particular α, Aldebaran, and π are not members of the cluster. Similarly all the stars outside the circle which I have labelled are members of the cluster. and there are more outside the scope of the picture. (As above, I have used a single symbol for θ1 and θ2 and for σ1 and σ2; in both cases 1 is the upper, northern, of the two.)
Date and Time: 5th November 2016 at 22:09 to 22:28 UT
Camera: Canon 1100D
Telescope: Canon 70-300mm lens at 110 mm, f/4.5
Capture: Star_MX7. Exposure 30 sec, ISO 800
Processing: PhotoImpact. Reduction in size to fit this page, removal of background light pollution, and rotation to put north at the top. Annotation for the mouseover.
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