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Image Details: M042 - The Great Orion Nebula

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M042 - The Great Orion Nebula

Object/Name: M042 (NGC 1976, LBN 974, Sh 281) Image Details:
Type: Diffuse Emission Nebula Luminance IRB:0.03 min. (20) – 0.67 min. 1x1
Constellation: Orion Luminance IRB:0.17 min. (12) – 2.00 min. 1x1
RA: 05 hours 35.4 minutes Luminance IRB:0.25 min. (20) – 5.00 min. 1x1
Dec: -5 degreees 37 minutes Red:0.03 min. (19) – 0.63 min. 1x1
Distance: 1,300.0 - 1,500.0 light years Red:0.17 min. (12) – 2.00 min. 1x1
Magnitude: 4 mag Red:0.25 min. (20) – 5.00 min. 1x1
Size: 60.0 x 85.0 arc minutes Green:0.03 min. (20) – 0.67 min. 1x1
Imaging Dates: 2 March 2007 Green:0.17 min. (12) – 2.00 min. 1x1
Location: Dark Horse Observatory, Kimberton, PA 19460 U.S.A. Green:0.25 min. (20) – 5.00 min. 1x1
  Blue:0.03 min. (20) – 0.67 min. 1x1
  Blue:0.17 min. (12) – 2.00 min. 1x1
  Blue:0.25 min. (20) – 5.00 min. 1x1
  Total Time:31 minutes
Telescope: Takahashi BRC-250 Mount: Mountain Instruments MI-250
CCD: SBIG ST-10XME Rotator: Optec Pxyis Rotator
Focuser: Finger Lakes Instruments DF2 Filters: Astrodon Series E
Software Used:
  CCDStack MiraPro Professional
Photoshop CS2 Russel Croman’s Gradient Xterminator
Noel Carboni’s Astronomy Tools  
Detailed Information:
M42 and M43 are two of the best known emission nebulae in the sky. The Great Orion Nebula, M42, was discovered in 1611 by Nicholas Peiresc. Messier observed it on 4 March 1769. This deep sky object can be seen with the naked eye as a faint nebulous area around the middle star in Orion’s “sword.” This enormous molecular cloud of hydrogen gas is a stellar nursery. The brighter area in the center contains 4 easily visible stars known as the Trapezium because of their trapezoidal arrangement. The four stars of the Trapezium shine between 5th and 8th magnitude and can just be made out in this image. On exceptional nights it is possible to see several other fainter stars nearby with high power views. These have the somewhat less than colorful appellations of E star, F star, G star and H star (a binary star). The whole nebula is energized to fluoresce by the ultraviolet radiation streaming from the 4 stars of the Trapezium referred to as Theta Orionis. These hot young stars began shining a mere million years ago. (By comparison the Sun is 4.5 billion years old.) What you can’t see is that scientists estimate that there are other unseen stars hidden by the dust and gas that range from 300,000 to a million years in ages. M43 is the comma-shaped wedge of nebulosity adjacent to M42. This fainter than its neightbor. M42. It surrounds a 7th magnitude star that is easily seen in this image known as Bond’s star. For visual observers willing to block out the brighter M42, M43 contains a great amount of detail with several collections of dark nebular regions. What cannot be seen in this close up image, but becomes quite obvious In wider field images is that M42 and M43 are tiny in comparison to the giant ring of emission nebula that surrounds Orion’s belt which is known as Barnards’s Loop. This image was originally taken in 2007, but I reprocessed it in 2012. The reprocessed version is displayed above. The improvements in my processing technique that I have discovered have allowed me to preserve detail in the Trapezium region and to bring out more nebular detail in general. For comparison, you can see the original processed version here.

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