M78 is a bright diffuse nebula in Orion. This magnitude 8.0 reflection nebula is a brighter portion of a vast nebula cloud that covers much of Orion. The nebula is illuminated by two B-type giant stars that are embedded in the nebula. This cloud of dust and gas is located about 1600 light-years away, and the nebulosity is about 2 to 3 light-years in diameter. M78 was discovered by P. Mechain in 1780. Messier observed it later that same year, and added it as the 78th entry to his catalog.
This is an RGB composite CCD image taken with an ST-8E on a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor. This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona.
M78 (NGC 2068).
RA:05h 46m 58.2s Dec:+00d 03' 13"
December 19, 2004
Image by Sid Leach
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