LOOK to the east as darkness falls on any clear night this week and you'll see what looks like a little 'knot' of stars shining above the horizon, writes STUART ATKINSON. This is a star cluster called the Pleiades, but most people know it by its unofficial name - The Seven Sisters.

It's known as that because sky watchers with good eyesight, looking at the cluster on a dark, Moon-free night, can see its seven brightest members with just their naked eye. Most people need a pair of binoculars or a telescope to resolve the cluster into individual stars, and through those the star cluster is revealed to have several hundred members. On a chilly autumn night it really is a beautiful sight.

Don't forget that the planet Mars is still visible before dawn, looking like an orange star low in the east. It isn't very striking right now, but next summer it will be a spectacular sight in the evening sky, looking like a very bright orange spark. Then, even small telescopes will show ice caps and dark deserts on its orange disc.