May 2009
« Feb   Jun »


Chasing Galileo: the Pleiades

Galileo's Pleaids

Galileo's Pleaids


My sketch of the Pleiades

Galileo’s sketch of the Pleiades was published in Sidereus Nuncius in 1610.

Galileo identified four levels of stellar magnitude. He represented the six naked eye stars he could see with a large star symbol. These 6 stars were listed in Ptolemy’s Star Catalog. Next come seven stars represented by larger than average star symbols. Twenty-one average sized star symbols are the next magnitude and two smaller than average star symbols complete the sketch.  Galileo saw thirty-six stars in the Pleiades.

My Pleiades sketch, using my Televue Ranger and a 25mm Zeiss Abbe Ortho eyepiece shows the Pleaides I was able to see at 19x. I saw the familiar 7 brightest members (the 7 sisters) and an additional 39 stars. I tried to make the size of each star sketch match the changes in magnitude, just like Galileo did.

Several of Galileo’s hand drawn sketches of the Pleiades, along with a diagram of Cassiopea, can be found in Volume 3, page 962 of the National Edition of Galileo’s works and are linked below:

Volume 3, page 962 of the National Edition of Galileo’s works

A page from Sidereus Nuncius showing Galileo’s Pleiads

Seven Sisters Overhead: Native American Legends of the Pleiades is an article I wrote for Fast Forward, a Marin County, CA Kids newspaper. It features a charming sketch of the Pleiades by my mom, Barbara Miller.

Here is a wide field astrophoto of the Pleiades or M-45 taken by my hubby Morris Jones.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>