PLEIADES is an open star cluster containing middle-aged hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.

The distance to the Pleiades is 390–460 ly.

 

Galileo Galilei was the first astronomer to view the Pleiades through a telescope.
He thereby discovered that the cluster contains many stars too dim to be seen with the naked eye. He published his observations, including a sketch of the Pleiades showing

36 stars, in his treatise Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610.

 

The Pleiades in Mythology

 

In the clear and unpolluted night skies of antiquity the Pleiades star cluster was an object of wonder and interest. It was the subject of myth and legend in almost every culture on the planet.

 

As the Pleiades cluster is close to the ecliptic (within 4°) in the constellation of Taurus it is a spring and autumnal 'seasonal' object in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Being close to the ecliptic, there are frequent occultations of the cluster with the Moon and planets.

To our superstitious ancestors these were, no doubt, portentious events. Likewise, the apparent annual motion of the cluster would have been highly significant. The heliacal (near dawn) rising of the Pleiades in spring in the northern hemisphere has from ancient times augured the opening of the seafaring and farming season: while its dawn autumnal setting marked the season's end.

 

The Pleiades are among the first stars mentioned in literature, appearing in Chinese annals of about 2350 BC. The earliest European references are somewhat later, in a poem by Hesiod in about 1000 BC and in Homer's Odyssey and Iliad.

 

The name "Pleiades" comes from Greek mythology:

 

The Pleiades were seven mountain nymph daughters of the Titan Atlas. 
Their leader was Maia, the mother of Hermes by Zeus. Five of the others were also loved by gods, becoming ancestresses of various royal families including those of Troy and Sparta. When they were pursued by the lustful giant Orion, Zeus set them amongst the stars as the seven-starred constellation Pleiades. Their name was derived from the Greek word pleiôn, meaning “plenty.”

 

Pleiades: the 7 Sisters: Alcyone is an eclipsing binary star, a blue-white giant star. Atlas (the Father star) is a triple star system. Electra is a blue-white giant star. Maia is also a blue-white giant star. Merope is a blue-white subgiant. Taygeta is a triple star. Pleione (the Mother) is a double star. Celaeno is known as the Lost Pleiad because it often cannot be seen, thus one can only see six of the Seven Sisters and Celaeno is missing. Sterope is a name shared by two stars.

 

In an alternative myth, the Pleiades were the virgin companions of Artemis, to the ancient Greeks, the goddess of hunting and the Moon. Whilst stalking a hind, the great hunter Orion crept into a sunlit glade, disturbing the innocent play of the sisters.

 

They fled in alarm. His immoderate passions enflamed by their beauty and grace, he pursued them relentlessly, as was fitting for the greatest mortal hunter. In frustration, Artemis pleaded with Zeus to for his intervention. With characteristic olympian sarcasm, he did. As the hunter closed in on his prey, Zeus transformed the sisters into a flock of doves. They flew into the heavens, beyond the reach of their pursuer, but also removed from earthly companionship with the goddess!

 

But according to Callimachus the Pleiades were daughters of an Amazonian queen. Their names were Maia, Coccymo, Glaucia, Protis, Parthenia, Stonychia, and Lampado. They were credited with inventing ritual dances and nighttime festivals.

 

 

MAIA

 

Maia is the fourth-brightest star in the Pleiades, after Alcyone, Atlas and Electra, in that order.

 

Māyā (Sanskrit: माया) is a word with unclear etymology, probably comes from the root mā which means "to measure".

 

1. In Vedic mythology, Indra uses Maya to conquer Vritra. Varuna's supernatural power is called Maya. Māyā, in such examples, connotes powerful magic, which both devas (gods) and asuras (demons) use against each other.


2. In Agni Puja tradition, māyā is an unfathomable planthe (Yajurveda).


3. The hymns in Book 8, Chapter 10 of Atharvaveda describe the primordial woman Virāj (विराज्, chief queen) and how she willingly gave the knowledge of food, plants, agriculture, husbandry, water, prayer, knowledge, strength, inspiration, concealment, charm, virtue, vice to gods, demons, men and living creatures, despite all of them making her life miserable. In hymns of 8.10.22, Virāj is used by Asuras (demons) who call her as Māyā, as follows.


4. Maya in Yoga school is the manifested world and implies divine force.


5. In Advaita Vedanta philosophy, there are two realities: Vyavaharika (empirical reality) and Paramarthika (absolute, spiritual reality). Māyā is the empirical reality that entangles consciousness. Māyā has the power to create a bondage to the empirical world, preventing the unveiling of the true, unitary Self—the Cosmic Spirit also known as Brahman. 


6. According to Shaktism and Hindu mythology, Adi Para Shakti—the Goddess,

Devi — the Supreme Being ⁠— also popularly referred to as "Adi Shakti",

"Parama Shakti", "Maha Shakti", "Mahadevi", or even simply as "Shakti".

Adi Parashakti appeared as Divine Pure Eternal Consciousness.

The created universe were her hairs. The sun and moon were her eyes.

 In her ears were the four directions. The Vedas — her words.

Death, affection and emotion were her teeth.

MAYA was manifested by her smile (‘The Devi Gita’).


7. In Buddhism, Māyā is "pretense" or "deceit". And Māyā - the name of Gautama Buddha's mother which died soon after the birth of Buddha, generally said to be seven days afterwards, and came to life again in a Buddhist heaven, a pattern that is said to be followed in the births of all Buddhas. Maya would, however, on occasion descend from Heaven to give advice to her son.


8. A similar word is also found in the Avestan māyā with the meaning of "magic power”.


9. In Tibetan Buddhism we can find different explanations of the mechanism producing the illusion usually called "reality". That’s one of them: 
“The real sky is (knowing) that samsara and nirvana are merely an illusory display”.


10. The Mayans based their ceremonial calendar on the cycle of the Pleiades. The Pleiades take 26,000 years to orbit. The Mayans believed the universe and the Mayan people originated from the Pleiades.

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