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M45 Pleiades astrophoto with the Sharpstar 61EDPH III refractor

Capturing M45 Pleiades with the Sharpstar 61EDPH III refractor

Shooting the popular M45 cluster using a Sharpstar 61EDPH III refractor and the ZWO 2600 camera in just one hour.

One of the most captivating and relatively easy targets for beginners and experienced astrophotographers alike is M45, also known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. This open star cluster, located in the constellation Taurus, is famous for its bright stars and surrounding nebulosity.

M45 Pleiades astrophoto with the Sharpstar 61EDPH III refractor

In this astrophoto, I captured M45 using a Sharpstar 61EDPH III 61 mm APO Refractor telescope, plus the use of a focal reducer (.75), which brings the 61mm scope to about 270mm FL and F/4.4. The ZWO 2600MM camera was used for acquisition and was equipped with RGB filters with just 3 hours of exposure (12-300s exposures on each RGB channel).

The entire rig was sitting on top of my AM5 mount.

M45 Pleiades and the neighboring dust clouds

M45, commonly known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, is an open star cluster located in the constellation Taurus. It's one of the nearest star clusters to Earth and one of the most noticeable to the naked eye in the night sky.

M45 is visible with the naked eye

The Pleiades are visible from virtually every part of the Earth, appearing as a small cluster of bright stars. To many observers, they look like a tiny dipper (often mistaken for the Little Dipper). They can be seen with the naked eye in clear, dark skies, and are even more impressive through binoculars or a telescope.


The Pleiades have been known since ancient times and feature in the mythologies and folklore of many cultures around the world. In Greek mythology, they are considered to be the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, placed in the sky by Zeus to escape the pursuit of Orion.

How far away is M45 Pleiades?

The cluster is located about 444 light-years away from Earth. It contains over 1,000 statistically confirmed members, although the core of the cluster is made up of a few hundred stars. The stars in the Pleiades are relatively young, with ages estimated at less than 100 million years.

The stars of the Pleiades are spectacular for their hot blue luminosity, which illuminates the surrounding interstellar dust, creating a reflection nebula. This is a beautiful sight through a telescope and is a favorite subject for astrophotographers.

Due to its brightness and prominence in the night sky, the Pleiades cluster has been a navigational aid and calendar marker for various cultures throughout history. It remains one of the most studied and photographed objects in the night sky.

Sharpstar 61 on AM5 mount with ZWO 2600MM used on M45 cluster

Telescope and camera equipment used for this shot

Sharpstar 61EDPH III refractor (at F/4)

Sharpstar .75 reducer

ZWO 2600MM / ZWO Filter wheel + filters

AM5 mount

M45 zoomed in to show 7 stars

About the Author

Richard Harris
Richard Harris

Meet Richard Harris, a passionate and dedicated astronomer who embarked on a cosmic journey at the age of 11 and has been reaching for the stars ever since. Born with an innate curiosity for the universe. Richard's fascination with astronomy ignited when he first gazed up at the night sky and felt an indescribable connection to the cosmos and creation. As a younger lad, Richard spent countless hours poring over astronomy books, studying constellations, and learning about the celestial wonders that grace our skies. In 2001 Richard invented the HyperTune telescope process which has grown into the standard for German equatorial telescope mount tuning across the globe. When he's not taking photos of our universe you can find him with family, playing guitar, or traveling.


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