M42 - The Great Orion Nebula

by Chuck September 2, 2010

OK, this is an easy one to find, but for completeness I feel like I need to put it in here. Tonight the air was clear and cold, and after taking a look at Mars hanging bright in the sky I decided to train the binoculars on Orion’s sword to see the Orion Nebula. Here’s the Wikipedia entry.

The naked eye shows the nebula as a bright smudge that makes up the tip of Orion’s sword. Through my 7x50 binoculars the gas clouds are evident, but the most visible thing is the blue glow of the young stars lighting up the nebula. If we get a chance to get the big scope out on a clear night while Orion is still in the sky it should make a fairly easy target.

In fact, I can’t imagine why I haven’t tried for it before…

This is one of the earliest Messier objects that I learned how to find, since it’s right there in one of the most recognizable constellations.

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Backyard Astronomy

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