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The Pleiades have inspired a wealth of mythology and legends: fascinating as these are the reality the star cluster is profoundly more wonderful. Historically, the Pleiades were seen as a group of 'seven' stars – its brightest stars: Alcyone, Atlas, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta and Pleione are visible to the keen naked eye. However modern observations show that this most famous of open clusters is comprised of several hundred stars wreathed in intricately structured nebulosity. At a distance of about 440 light years from the Earth, the Pleiades are one of the nearest galactic open clusters.