M45: The Pleiades
M45 is clearly visible in the winter sky – you don’t need instructions on finding it, just confirmation that that object is the one we are discussing. (It’s rather common to encounter people who have seen this object but think it is The Little Dipper. It does have a tiny dipper-like shape of stars, so this misunderstanding is understandable.)
In the Japanese language, this object is called “Subaru”, which is why a cluster of six stars is the logo on the grill of Subaru automobiles.
Open clusters are easy to find and observe in small telescopes, pretty, and scientifically important. This is a group of stars all born from a common cloud of gas and dust. Since they came from the same gas cloud they are, astronomically speaking, all about the same age and all about the same distance from us, and they all started with about the same chemical composition. Knowing that they are the same age and at the same distance, the fact that they have different appearances allows us to learn a great deal about stellar evolution – the different appearances can only be a result of the different masses of the different stars.
In your telescope, you may find it actually looks worse than in the finder, because the cluster is so large that your telescope will not fit it all in the field of view.
Short-focal length telescopes such as small refractors, with wide-field eyepieces, can still show the entire cluster in its beauty.
All the above images were generated with Starry Night Pro.