I’ve heard the Great Orion Nebula referred to as the amateur’s nebula. I guess it gets that tag because it’s easy to find. Maybe so, however, it’s great for a lot of reasons. First, it’s the closest star-producing nebula to Earth, a mere 1,600 light years out there. Its rivers of dust and gas create colorful patterns that challenge the astro photographer. Its central core of four stars, known as the trapezium cluster, are a real challenge to balance their brightness with all that dust and gas they light up. Just one of the four massive stars in the trapezium cluster is 250,000 times more luminous than our star–aka the sun.
Even without a telescope you can enjoy the Great Orion Nebula. The darker the sky area you can find, the better. The constellation Orion (currently in the southwest sky), and his three-star belt is the place to start. Hanging from the left side of the belt (our left, his right) is the scabbard for his sword and within that scabbard is the nebula. It will look like a fuzzy ball, naked eye. With binoculars, however, you begin to see the wispy channels of gas and dust. The image below was made with my Explore Scientific ED80CF scope and Nikon D7500 camera. It’s a composite of 46 images stacked in Deep Sky Stacker software and processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic. The meteor zipping through was a bonus that astro photographers either love or hate. Since it did not cross through my image of the nebula, I welcomed its presence in this night sky image.
One thought on “Why is the Great Orion Nebula, great”
I did not know the Orion Nebula çan be seen with binoculars! I will try that as Orion is right outside my kitchen door. Thank you for another great lesson and gorgeous photo. Keep them coming!