Pleiades photo by Gia Campanella
|On November 16 recently the
Warren Wilson Astronomy class travelled to
Craggy Pinnacle Parking Lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway to view stars
from a high elevation far away from the city lights. The
the parking lot for the Craggy Pinnacle Trail is 5,640 ft above sea
level. Both the high elevation and the dark region greatly
the visibility of stars - especially faint stars. Gia made this
photograph of the Pleiades with an inexpensive digital camera using
only a single frame and a 15 second exposure.
The Pleiades is a star cluster visible with the un-aided eye during the late fall and early winter months. One usually must use averted vision to see the cluster. On the mountain tops in Western North Carolina, the Pleiades are plainly visible. The Pleiades star cluster is one of the brightest of thousands of star clusters in solar neighborhood in the Milky Way Galaxy. All the stars in the Pleiades were all formed at the same time about 100 million years ago. This is quite young for stars. The Sun is about 4 billion years old. The Pleiades' stars are not only young, but very large. The brightest stars being several hundred times brighter than the Sun. Large, young stars are much hotter than the Sun - notice the bright bluish color to the Pleiades.
The Pleiades were featured in a Physics Photo of the Week for April 14, 2006 as the Moon occulted the stars in the Pleiades one-by-one.
|On the same trip to the Craggy
Mountains, Joe took this picture of Orion rising in the east.
Notice the three stars in Orion's belt and the three star-like objects
to the right of Orion's belt. The middle star of to the
right of the belt is the famous Orion Nebula. The Orion nebula is
a marvelous object to be viewed in small telescopes. See Physics
Photo of the Week for Feb. 20, 2004.
Orion photo by Joe Davis-Lockhart
|The photo at left
is most of the class. Due to the darkness, it was difficult to
get everyone in the photo. Also the flash temporarily blinded the
participants because their eyes had become dark-adapted to view the