Messier 42 (M 42) - Orion Nebula

Introduction | Map | Sketch | Pseudo Photo (Stellarium) | My Own Observations | References

On this page I collect my observations of the galactic emission nebula M 42/43, also called Orion Nebula, in the Orion constellation.



The Orion Nebula M 42 together with its "annex" M 43 is probably the largest galactic emission nebula in the northern sky. It is found in Orion's sword, that is, in the constellation Orion, and at least the sword is usually visible to the naked eye. M 43 was formerly considered as a separate nebula, but today it is regarded as part of M 42. In winter, M 43 is located slightly above M 42.

Size: 25 'x 30' (Stoyan)
Distance: 1,300 light years (Stoyan)
Ranking: ***** (Stoyan)



M 42 aund M 43 in Orion's sword



The sketch by Michael Vlasov ( provides a rough impression of what I observed in February 2017 (my impression was much fainter than the sketch):

Sketch of the Orion Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission


Pseudo Photo (Stellarium)

Pseudo photo of M 42 taken from Stellarium (large version, larger version)


My Own Observations

Observed in winter 2015/16 with binoculars and small telescopes; not very clear to see...

Observations February 2017

It is said that the Orion Nebula can be seen with the naked eye. This definitely depends on the viewing conditions, but the sword can be seen shimmering in any case when it is dark enough. It is difficult to tell for me what exactly is the the nebula in alt this shimmering... Using binoculars, one can already see the nebula well and within it some bright stars (the Trapeze). The same applies, of course, to small (and larger) telescopes. Not quite unexpectedly, the Orion Nebula appeared to me most beautifully in the 8" Dobsonian telescope. The sight with the 5" Heritage P130 (with GoTo) was very nice as well (new moon).

Only at higher magnifications, I was, however, able to resolve the Trapezium, an arrangement of 4 closely spaced stars at the center of the nebula.

In simple terms, the Orion Nebula has approximately the same size as the moon or the sun (25 'x 30'). How extended it actually appears depends, on the one hand, on the viewing conditions and, on the other hand, on the dark adaptation of one's own eyes. Often I return (for different reasons) to brighter areas and thereby destroy my painstakingly built-up dark adaptation...

When I used the GoTo control, I started my observations with M 42 and afterwards returned to it from time to time to check whether the GoTo control was still correctly adjusted.

Observations End of March 2017

Observations November 2017



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