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Seven Sisters in the Sky

When I was a kid, I used to observe a cluster of tiny sparkling dots  in the sky at night that somehow looked like a question mark shape to me, and I used to wonder what it means. No one informed me. All I knew was, it looked beautiful.

But Now that I am no longer a baby, am grown and done with my schooling, I know what that question mark stands for. It’s a star cluster ! 

According to wikipedia: It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.  What’s even more interesting is the name given to it: Seven Sisters. Ever since I came to know the legend behind its name, Its beauty has grown crimson in my heart. Pleiades: go by the name, seven sisters owing to their mention in Greek Mythology. 

Here’s a crappy image of the seven sisters from my dslr.

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And here’s the NASA’ image of these Seven Sisters. UP-CLOSE!

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See how magnificent our sky is. How God Almighty has adorned the sky with beautiful sparkling lights that work like lamps for us in the night time. I can’t get enough of stargazing! It’s my favorite thing to do when WAPDA cuts the electricity. Or when I’m out, into the wild at night.

WHAT MYTHOLOGY SAYS ABOUT SEVEN SISTERS

“In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were seven sisters: Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno and Merope. Their parents were Atlas, a Titan who held up the sky, and the oceanid Pleione, the protectress of sailing.

After a chance meeting with the hunter Orion, the Pleiades and their mother became the object of his pursuit. Enamoured with the young women he pursued them over the face of the Earth. In pity for their plight, Zeus changed them into a flock of doves, which he set in the heavens. Thus the olympian added the penalty of the absence of his wife and family to the Titan’s original punishment of eternally supporting the heavens from the Earth.

Only six stars are distinctly visible to the naked eye. The ancient Greeks explained the sudden disappearance of the seventh star in various narratives. According to one, all the Pleiades were consorts to gods, with the exception of Merope. She deserted her sisters in shame, having taken a mortal husband, Sisyphus, the King of Corinth. Another explanation for the ‘lost’ star related to the myth of the Electra, an ancestress of the royal house of Troy. After the destruction of Troy, the grief stricken Electra abandoned her sisters and was transformed into a comet – everafter to be a sign of impending doom.”

According to another version,  all seven sisters committed suicide because they were so saddened by either the fate of their father, Atlas, or the loss of their siblings, the Hyades. In turn Zeus, the ruler of the Greek gods, immortalized the sisters by placing them in the sky. There these seven stars formed the star cluster known thereafter as the Pleiades.

Our Universe is full of such myths that keep us amused. If nothing else, these stories are so intoxicating that they become such great legends in our heads. I know a story about Venus, too. It’s what my aunt used to tell us when we were kids; that how Zohra (a woman) climbed up to the sky and became a star, Venus.

Maybe I’ll tell that, some other time. 

Happy stargazing! 

  • Londoneya

    Loved reading about this! I love star gazing too, but in Cairo it was hard to see the stars from the pollution and it’s also hard to see them clearly in London.

    I remember I went on a trip outside London to a farm years ago and the night sky was so clear I was dazzled by just how many stars there were and how clear they all were to the naked eye! I remember having a neck ache that night! 😉

    I’m going to look out for these sisters, despite living in polluted cities!

    • Khanum

      I am so VERY glad you shared your interest and opinion. I also live in the city where light pollution is at extreme and we can’t really observe the night sky with great joy but sometimes the weather gets better and no electricity provides the chance to us, to notice some sparkling stars. I would try to capture and write on Orion’s belt next time. That’s also visible to the naked eye. (Y)