M42 The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula

Image of the Orion Nebula
Taken With a 3-Inch Refractor

M42 is a diffuse nebula in which new stars are being born. The bright spot to the right of the bright core of this nebula received its own separate designation in the Messier Catalog as M43. The total mass of the nebula is sufficient to form about 10,000 stars like our Sun. Radiation from the star Theta Orionis causes the gas in the nebula to fluoresce. The nebula is located 1270 light-years away. M42 has a diameter of about 25 light years. The actual density of the gas in the nebula is less dense than a millionth of the density of gas in a laboratory vacuum here on Earth. M42 was included in the original Messier catalog published in 1769.

This is an LRGB color composite CCD image taken with a Takahashi FS-78 telescope and an SBIG ST-8E from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona. The scope was carried on an EM-10 mount. The luminance data for the image was acquired on three consecutive nights in September 2003, The RGB color data was acquired in January 2004.

M42 (NGC 1976)
Constellation: Orion
RA: 05h 35m 30.2s Dec: -05d 27' 01"
September 20-22, 2003 & January 11, 2004
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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