Word Origin & History
1388, the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, transformed by Zeus into seven stars, from L., from Gk. Pleiades, perhaps lit. "constellation of the doves" from a shortened form of peleiades, pl. of peleias "dove," from PIE base *pel- "dark-colored, gray." Or perhaps from plein "to sail," because the
season of navigation begins with their heliacal rising. Mentioned by Hesiod (pre-700 B.C.E.), only six now are visible to most people; on a clear night a good eye can see nine (in 1579, well before the invention of the telescope, astronomer Moestlin correctly drew 11 Pleiades stars); telescopes reveal at least 500.