Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pleiades, the girls of the universe

The seven sisters of the Pleiades. Source

Pleiades, also known as the seven sisters. God talks to Job about the Pleiades asking him whether he can unbind them, going on to chastise Job for arguing with the Creator of everything and eventually bringing Job to his senses by letting him realize how insignificant he is in this God created universe. I find it fascinating how the Bible tells of the bonds that hold things in their place, we only started believing this when we began using telescopes and working out that every thing is turning at the same speed. Now we are looking for dark matter. Wouldn't we be better off looking instead for God?
This morning I was wondering what heavenly body began with the letter "P" and being bored with Pluto, which we seem to have heard way too much about lately, I decided to go with Pleiades, which we haven't heard about for ages, so this is what you are getting.
Venus and the Pleiades side by side. Source, ESA.

The Pleiades are in the constellation Taurus, not all that easy to spot but can be found by looking at the shoulder of Taurus in the winter sky. This open star cluster has been calculated to be about 440 light years away, apparently this is important for astronomers because of how they calculate the size of the universe. Personally I cannot understand how there could be an edge to the universe. What is on the other side of that edge, more universe? Anyway I digress, sorry. The Pleiades are named after the seven daughters of Atlas, nymphs in the train of Artemis. I really don't know much about Greek mythology but I'm learning by doing this research.
There is some dispute as to whether the Pleiades were named after their mother Pleione or whether the star cluster was named first and the story evolved to explain their presence in the heavens. I do know that a lot of the Greek myths were based on what was already in the sky above their heads, and like any government today, stories are disseminate to exemplify the leaders and keep the population in awe, or should I say in the dark?
The Pleiades are also important because of the fact that their rising marks the end of the sailing season in the Mediterranean and signifying the beginning of land based activities like plowing and sowing.
" And if longing seizes you for sailing the stormy seas,
when the Pleiades flee mighty Orion
and plunge into the misty deep
and all the gusty winds are raging,
then do not keep your ship on the wine dark sea
but, as I bid you, remember to work the land."

The Greek poet Hesiod as written in "Works and Days."
Absolutely lovely.
Back to work for me again. Blessings and starry nights, Geoff.


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