Conjunction is an Astronomical event in which two or more celestial objects appear to be close to each other in the sky as observed from Earth. This phenomenon occurs when these objects share the same right ascension or celestial longitude, creating the illusion of being close together when viewed from our vantage point. Conjunctions can involve various celestial bodies, including planets, the Moon, stars, and sometimes even galaxies.
The Pleiades is an open star cluster located about 444 light years away, consisting of over 1,000 stars in the Taurus constellation, sometimes referred to as the Seven Sisters or Messier 45. The Pleiades stars are hot, blue, and relatively youthful and are made up of a collection of stars that originated from the same nebula. It is cataloged as Messier 45 (M45), named after the 18th-century French astronomer Charles Messier. It is frequently apparent to the unaided eye. The cluster is most easily seen in the winter when it is high in the evening sky.
At Space India, through our “Space Explorers Workshop – Evening rendezvous with the sky” students learn about the telescope, its importance, invention, types, working, and astronomical discoveries. Astronomy is all about observing moon, planets and stars, galaxies, etc with their beautiful features. Students also learn how to align telescope towards the celestial objects in the sky and observe such wonderful conjunctions, planets, and the celestial ballet occurring in the sky.
Conjunctions between the Moon and the Pleiades occur several times throughout the year. The frequency of the conjunction between the Moon and the Pleiades depends on the orbital motions of the Moon and the Pleiades star cluster. However, the exact frequency can vary, and the visibility of these conjunctions may be influenced by factors such as the observer’s location, the time of year, and the brightness of the Moon. Since the Moon’s orbital period is roughly 29.5 days, it passes through the vicinity of the Pleiades approximately once a month. It is most prominent in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, so conjunctions during this time are easily visible. This conjunction can be seen on the 20th of this month.
To determine the exact time and direction for the visibility of the conjunction, several astronomy apps can provide real-time sky information like Stellarium software. You can enter your location and view information on upcoming Moon-Pleiades conjunctions, including the time and direction.
Different cultures have developed unique stories and beliefs around celestial events, according to Greek mythology, the Pleiades are often associated with the Seven Sisters, daughters of the titan Atlas. The sisters transformed into stars to escape the pursuit of the hunter Orion. The conjunction of the Moon and the Pleiades might be seen as a celestial reunion or an event linked to the mythology of these starry sisters.
The ancient Mayans had a calendar that tracked celestial events, and the Pleiades held significance in their cosmology. The Moon’s conjunction with the Pleiades might have been observed in the context of the Mayan calendar, influencing rituals or agricultural practices.
It is important to note that interpretations of celestial events are culturally diverse, and the significance of the Moon-Pleiades conjunction can vary widely among different societies and belief systems. The celestial dance of the Moon and the Pleiades continues to inspire wonder and storytelling across the globe.
Our SPACE Explorers Workshops are specialized astronomy and space science theme-based workshops that are age-group-specific and can be conducted at schools, educational institutes, and resident welfare associations, i.e., for people from all walks of life. It aims to make students aware of astronomy, its presence, and its relevance in our day-to-day lives. They are designed in a way to make students understand concepts in books and apply them to derive numbers out of nature and understand the workings of the universe.