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e-book Hubble Refines Distance to Pleiades Star Cluster

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Due to the motion of the Earth around the Sun, the position of a star in the Pleiades, will appear to shift relative to stars farther away. This effect, called parallax, can be used to calculate the distance to the star with simple geometry; a similar method of triangulation is used by surveyors to measure distances on Earth.

Hubble Refines Distance to the Pleiades Star Cluster

Making these kinds of measurements of a star's movement is very difficult. The Fine Guidance Sensors are so precise that if the human eye had the same ability to measure small angles, it would be able to see a quarter 16, miles away. Hipparcos was the first space observatory to make precise measurements of the positions and motions of celestial objects.

Before Hipparcos, astronomers determined the distances to stars like the Pleiades by measuring parallax with ground-based telescopes. Those observations were less precise because Earth's atmosphere distorts light from stars, limiting the telescopes' resolution.

Refining Hipparcos’s Star Distances

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Star Clusters: Crash Course Astronomy #35

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