M42 - Orion Nebula - 100205

The Orion Nebula (Messier 42/M42 or NGC 1976) is a diffuse emission nebula that appears to the naked eye as the middle star in the constellation Orion's "sword" or scabbard, just south of Orion's Belt. The constellation of Orion is situated on the outer limb of the Milky Way, visible throughout the winter months. The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye as a blurry looking star. Only a small amount of magnification with binoculars or a telescope is needed to see the brightest part of the nebula clearly. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 light years and is is estimated to be 24 light years across. It is the closest and most active region of massive star formation in our part of the Milky Way galaxy.

The Orion Nebula contains a very young open cluster centered in the brightest part of the nebula, known as the Trapezium due to the asterism of its primary four stars. Two of these can be resolved into their component binary systems on nights with good seeing, giving a total of six stars.

This image (and virtually every image of the Orion Nebula) also contains the separately cataloged M43 nebula, which is the dark dust lane and round nebula in the upper middle of this image, just to the right of the main M42 nebula. At the right of the image is the Running Man nebula (NGC 1977) along with NGC 1975 and 1976.

This is my original successful image on the Orion Nebula and still probably my favorite. It was taken with my modified Canon 450D on the SkyWatcher ED100, as evidenced by the characteristic star flare around the stars to the left of the nebula. The main image is a stack of 20 ten-minute exposures, stacked in DSS and processed in Photoshop, with some 30 second and 5 second exposures used to recover the Trapezium.

Astrometry Details

Image Center: View full size annotated image.
   Right Ascension: 5h 34m 47.741s (83° 41m 56.109s)
   Declination: -5° 18m 54.280s
Orientation: Up is 84.9 degrees West of North.
Image Size: 1.416° x 56.542' Pixel Scale: 1.188"

Identified Objects


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  • Machael Foegelle on 2012-Dec-29 20:00:06 Machael Foegelle said

    This is my next favorite image, second only to the Flame and Horsehead Nebula image(s).
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