Year of 2017

An infrared image of the Orion Nebula

If you can get away from the light pollution of cities and highways, it’s possible to see the Orion Nebula with the naked eye. Find Orion’s Belt in the constellation named for the mythic Greek hunter, and you can see the fuzzy reddish and blue nebula. Your glimpse won’t be quite as detailed as this infrared image taken by the HAWK-I, an infrared camera mounted to a Very Large Telescope (yes, that’s a technical term) at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. But at least now you know what to look for.

The Orion Nebula is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. It has a mass of about 2000 times the mass of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.
Age: 3 million years
Apparent magnitude: 4
Distance to Earth: 1,344 light-year (412 parsec)
Discoverer: Christiaan Huygens
Orion Nebula - Hubble 2006 mosaic
In one of the most detailed astronomical images ever produced, NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured an unprecedented look at the Orion Nebula. … This extensive study took 105 Hubble orbits to complete. All imaging instruments aboard the telescope were used simultaneously to study Orion. The Advanced Camera mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full moon. Coordinates Position (RA): 5 35 9.73 Position (Dec): -5° 24′ 50.32″ Field of view: 30.03 x 30.03 arcminutes Orientation: North is 0.0° left of vertical Colours & filter Band Wavelength Telescope Optical B 435 nm Hubble Space Telescope ACS Optical V 555 nm Hubble Space Telescope ACS Optical H-alpha 658 nm Hubble Space Telescope ACS Infrared I 775 nm Hubble Space Telescope ACS Infrared Z 850 nm Hubble Space Telescope ACS Notes: Additional observational data from the WFI instrument on the ESO.MPG 2.2-metre telescope.