Pleiades

/plee"euh deez', pluy"-/, n.pl.
1. Class. Myth. seven daughters of Atlas and half sisters of the Hyades, placed among the stars to save them from the pursuit of Orion. One of them (the Lost Pleiad) hides, either from grief or shame.
2. Astron. a conspicuous group or cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, commonly spoken of as seven, though only six are visible.
[1350-1400; ME Pliades < L Pliades < Gk Pleíades (sing. Pleías); akin to pleîn to sail]

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Open cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus, about 400 light-years from Earth.

It contains a large amount of bright nebulous material and several hundred stars, of which six or seven can be seen by the unaided eye and have figured prominently in the myths and literature of many cultures. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rising of the Pleiades near dawn in spring has from ancient times marked the opening, and their morning setting in autumn the end, of seafaring and farming seasons.

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      in Greek mythology, the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas and the Oceanid Pleione: Maia, Electra, Taygete, Celaeno, Alcyone, Sterope, and Merope. They all had children by gods (except Merope, who married Sisyphus).

      The Pleiades eventually formed a constellation. One myth recounts that they all killed themselves out of grief over the death of their sisters, the Hyades. Another explains that after seven years of being pursued by Orion, a Boeotian giant, they were turned into stars by Zeus. Orion became a constellation, too, and continued to pursue the sisters across the sky. The faintest star of the Pleiades was thought to be either Merope, who was ashamed of loving a mortal, or Electra, grieving for Troy, the city of Dardanus, her son with Zeus.

 (catalog number M45), open cluster of stars in the zodiacal constellation Taurus, about 410 light-years from the solar system. It contains a large amount of bright nebulous material and several hundred stars, of which six or seven can be seen by the unaided eye and have figured prominently in the myths and literature of many cultures. In Greek mythology (Pleiades) the Seven Sisters (Alcyone, Maia, Electra, Merope, Taygete, Celaeno, and Sterope, names now assigned to individual stars), daughters of Atlas and Pleione, were changed into the stars. The heliacal (near dawn) rising of the Pleiades in spring of the Northern Hemisphere has marked from ancient times the opening of seafaring and farming seasons, as the morning setting of the group in autumn signified the seasons' ends. Some South American Indians use the same word for “Pleiades” and “year.”

      The cluster was first examined telescopically by Galileo, who found more than 40 members; it was first photographed by Paul and Prosper Henry in 1885.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Pleiades — late 14c., the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, transformed by Zeus into seven stars, from L., from Gk. Pleiades, perhaps lit. constellation of the doves from a shortened form of peleiades, pl. of peleias dove, from PIE root *pel dark… …   Etymology dictionary

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  • Pleiades — [plē′ə dēz΄, plī′ə dēz΄] the sing. Pleiad [plā′yad΄; plē′yad΄, plāad΄, plē′ad΄, plā′əd, plē′əd; plī′yad, plī′ad΄] [ME Pliades < L Pleiades < Gr] 1. Gr. Myth. the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, placed by Zeus among the stars 2. [often …   English World dictionary

  • Pleiades — Ple ia*des (?; 277), n. pl. [L., fr. Gr. (?)] 1. (Myth.) The seven daughters of Atlas and the nymph Pleione, fabled to have been made by Jupiter a constellation in the sky. [1913 Webster] 2. (Astron.) A group of small stars in the neck of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pleïădes [1] — Pleïădes, 1) (Pleïaden), die sieben Töchter des Atlas (daher Atlantides) u. der Pleiŏne, der Tochter des Okeanos; sie waren: a) Alkyone, welche dem Poseidon Hyrieus, Hyperenor u. Äthusa gebar; b) Merope, von Sisyphos Mutter des Glaukos; c) Keläno …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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