Messier 78 (M 78)

Introduction | Map | Sketch | My Own Observations | References

On this page I collect my observations of the galactic recflection nebula M 78 in the Orion constellation.



M 78 is the brightest galactic reflection nebula in the sky and said to be an easy catch for small telescopes. As my experiences, however, show the catch is not at all that easy under the observation conditions in Mühlhausen / Kraichgau...

Size: 5' x 4' (Stoyan)
Distance: 1,200 light years (Stoyan)
Rating: * (Stoyan)



M 42 and M 43 Orion's sword; M 78 (top left) is located between Alnitak and Betelgeuse



The sketch by Michael Vlasov ( provides a rough impression of what I should have - and may have - observed:

Sketch of the M78 Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission


My Own Observations

Observations February/March 2017

The galactic reflection nebula M 78 in the Orion constellation is not on my "Winter list" (it has only a "one star" rating...), but because it seemed easy to find to me, I looked out for it, as well. It is located at 1/4 of the distance between the left girdle star Alnitak (the name does not need to be remembered ...) to the left "shoulder star" Betelgeuse and a small amount outside (or to the left...) of Orion's body (see map).

Well, all search seemed to be in vain - I did neither find M 78 with the binoculars nor with the small Heritage 100P Dobsonian telescope (4") - not even with GoTo mount. With the larger 8 " Dobsonian GSD 680 telescope I might have caught a glimpse of M 78 and another nebulous object, but I would not want to denote this as "find"... But finally, on February 26 (new moon), I indeed found a weak glimpse of M 78 with my Heritage P130 5" Dobsonian telescope on my GoTo mount (and thus, conclude that I had seen it with the GSD 680 as well).

Observations End of March 2017

I did not find M 78 during these observation days.



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