Wednesday, February 23, 2005

M42 -- The Orion Nebula

Orion, The Hunter, is a very prominent star constellation in the Winter sky, characterized by three bright stars in a row that represent the hunter's "belt". This is the way it looks to the unaided eye. Hanging down from the belt is a little string of stars making up Orion's sword "scabbard". See the fuzzy star next to the bottom in the scabbard?

Now here's what that fuzzy "star" looks like through a small telescope.

The glorious Orion Nebula, number 42 in the Messier catalog is a veritable nursery of newborn stars which are being formed by contraction of the interstellar gases you see illuminated by the hot new stars. I took this picture with my 8-inch telescope fitted with a reducer so the whole image would fit in the field of view.

You can even make out a bit of its shape through your binoculars. Give it a try.

It is a beautiful and amazing universe we live in.

-- Dalton Hammond

More of my Backyard Astronomy

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