Pleiades Star Cluster Sparkles in Amazing Stargazer Photo
The Pleiades star cluster (M45) is a group of 800 stars formed about 100 million years ago. The cluster is located 410 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Taurus. Astrophotographer Josh Knutson of Aurora, Colo. sent deep-exposure, widefield photo to SPACE.com on Jan. 7, 2014.
Credit: Josh Knutson

The Pleiades star cluster dazzles brilliantly in this deep-exposure, widefield photo recently sent in to SPACE.com by a veteran astrophotographer.

"The exposure was deep enough to draw out the extended interstellar dust surrounding the cluster," night sky photographer Josh Knutson of Aurora, Colo.wrote SPACE.com. "There are also some tiny magnitude 15-17 galaxies showing up in the background."

Comprising 800 stars, the Pleiades star cluster (M45) was formed about 100 million years ago and is located 410 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. One light-year is the distance light travels in a single year, which is about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Bright stars Atlas and Pleione, along with their seven daughter stars make up what we can typically see with the naked eye.

Though they look serene and silent from our vantage on Earth, stars are actually roiling balls of violent plasma. Test your stellar smarts with this quiz.
Open Star Cluster Messier 50
0 of 10 questions complete
Star Quiz: Test Your Stellar Smarts
Though they look serene and silent from our vantage on Earth, stars are actually roiling balls of violent plasma. Test your stellar smarts with this quiz.
Open Star Cluster Messier 50
0 of questions complete

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To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

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