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Orion Nebula (M42)

Posted: August 12th, 2014, 4:02 pm
by Christopher K.
When an armchair astronomer hears "nebula" probably the first one that comes to mind is the Great Orion Nebula, for which Charles Messier gave the number 42 on his famous list. David Levy calls it "one of the marvels of the night sky". Antonin Rükl has no problem characterizing it as "the best-known, most admired and most frequently photographed diffuse nebula"--and in fact Bill Buck, Mike Carambat, Chris Desselles, Maurice Franks, Charles Genovese and Steve Smith have all imaged it.

The object garners three exclamation points on the introductory list for the constellation Orion in Burnham's, and Burnham himself says it's "one of the wonderfully beautiful objects in the heavens".

Below are the times during which the Orion Nebula reaches its culmination of fifty-four degrees in the Baton Rouge sky...
6 October = 5:40am
10 October = 5:24am
14 October = 5:09am
18 October = 4:53am
22 October = 4:37am
26 October = 4:21am
30 October = 4:06am
Times above are Daylight. Times below are Standard.
3 November = 2:50am
7 November = 2:34am
11 November = 2:19am
15 November = 2:03am
19 November = 1:47am
23 November = 1:31am
27 November = 1:16am
1 December = 1:00am
5 December = 12:44am
9 December = 12:28am
13 December = 12:13am
17 December = 11:53pm
21 December = 11:37pm
25 December = 11:22pm
29 December = 11:06pm
2 January = 10:50pm
6 January = 10:34pm
10 January = 10:19pm
14 January = 10:03pm
18 January = 9:47pm
22 January = 9:32pm
26 January = 9:16pm
30 January = 9:00pm
3 February = 8:44pm
7 February = 8:29pm
11 February = 8:13pm
15 February = 7:57pm
19 February = 7:41pm
23 February = 7:26pm

M42 is visible to the unaided eye in a semi-dark sky, and is visible with binoculars in a mid-sized city like Baton Rouge. M42 was the first nebula to appear on a photograph, taken by Henry Draper in 1880. A 7 February 2014 picture taken by Dennis Roscoe from Wisconsin is slide number seven in the collaborative gallery from Time Magazine and the Astronomical League.

More information:
Burnham's Celestial Handbook, pp. 1317-1337.
Constellation Handbook by Antonin Rkl, p. 160.

Re: Orion Nebula (M42)

Posted: August 25th, 2014, 5:40 pm
by Christopher K.
The 15 January APOD is a view of M42 not seen with human eyes. Spitzer provided the data from which the image was constructed; as with an optical view, the brightest section is still the Trapezium and its immediate environment.

15 January 2014 APOD:

Re: Orion Nebula (M42)

Posted: October 8th, 2014, 2:18 am
by Christopher K.
This morning HRPO has advertised a viewing time of 3:30am to 6:30am for the total lunar eclipse; therefore, many who make not be able to make it to the Observatory may step out of their homes beginning at 3:30am to view the Moon. However, the Moon will not hit the Earth's umbra until 4:15am. In the meantime, and especially if you have a binocular take advantage of the Orion Nebula's high altitude. At 3:30am this glorious stellar nursery will be forty-four degrees up in the southeast.

Re: Orion Nebula (M42)

Posted: January 8th, 2015, 8:13 pm
by Christopher K.
Last Friday's APOD came from László Francsics. Unfortunately, this beautiful image of the Orion Nebula doesn't have accompanying text outlining any exposure time or wavelengths. (It is good to give credit for the nebula's attractive to Theta1 Orionis C, though.)

2 January APOD:

Re: Orion Nebula (M42)

Posted: February 7th, 2015, 4:57 pm
by Christopher K.
The 19 January APOD is a false-color image showing the variation in the heat signature surrounding M42. The orange regions are visible starlight; the unmistakable comma shape of M43 is apparent in the left half of the picture.

19 January APOD:

Re: Orion Nebula (M42)

Posted: January 13th, 2016, 7:50 pm
by Christopher K.
In the very heart of the Orion Nebula is the so-called Trapezium, the four brightest of a newly-hatched cluster of hundreds of stars. We are fortunate to have our side of the Nebula opened up to us to view this beautiful sight. With the right magnification and conditions, one can even discern three fainter stars in the field.

The Orion Nebula reaches its highest in the Baton Rouge sky around 10pm tonight, but even now it's high enough to enjoy. Look at it!

More information:
365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo (13 January entry)

Re: Orion Nebula (M42)

Posted: April 5th, 2016, 7:47 pm
by Christopher K.
Way back on 18 January at ~8:15pm CST, I viewed M42 at ~45x. For a second, I saw all of the Trapezium but mostly I saw three. I think the 10mm's shutting out some light may have made it harder.