rganetzk at rganetzk at
Sun Jun 29 13:35:37 EDT 2003

> >*do* stars gradually fade, but fast enough for them to
> >have been visible within living memory?
> Sometimes, particular sorts of star do indeed do this. I have no
> idea
> whether any of the Pleiades might be of the right sort, though.
I realize I should have pointed this out a few posts ago already, but I
was being lazy.  The Pleiades is not actually a cluster of stars, but
actually a galaxy.  If you look at it through a telescope, rather than a
pair of binoculars, the number of stars you can see in it is limited
only by the power of the telescope.  
I believe one can see seven and only seven stars in it using binoculars,
and very early telescopes.  
-Rebecca, delurking to gush about her favorite star cluster.
P.S.  I'm not sure how common this knowledge is, but btw, the Pleiades
aren't an official constellation unto themselves -- they're techinically
a part of the constellation Taurus (them plus the Haides plus the
extremely bright star Aldebaran, which is argued to belong to neither
group or the Haides, depending on whom you ask.)
P.P.S. I would hypothesize that if seven stars were indeed at one point
visible to the unaided eye, it may have been caused by a rotation in the
galaxy of the pleiades, which iirc, is a spiral galaxy like our own. 
But now I'm kind of making things up.  Off to look at my astronomy books...
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