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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2008

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Orion Nebula (M42), Luke VanderWeide

Orion Nebula

 

The Orion Nebula was presumably first discovered in 1610 by Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc and independently in 1611 by Johann Baptist Cysatus. Charles Messier added it to his collection of objects as M42 in 1769. It is one of the brightest nebulas in the sky. It shines at about a magnitude of 4, which is bright considering it is a nebula. The Orion Nebula has connections with ancient Mayan history which considered the nebula to be Xibalba, or an ancient Mayan underworld. This nebula, however is a birthplace where stars are being formed. This nebula could be similar to the one our own Sun was formed in long ago.

The picture I have taken is only a piece of the full nebula which can be seen here: Orion Nebula. The full size image looks great. My picture only shows a small edge of it. In it, you can get a very good indication of the dust that is present when it is contrasted to the darkness off to the left side. It appears to be very wispy in certain areas. The dust is also a good reason why the nebula is so bright because it captures and reflects the light being emitted. The distance to the nebula is about 1500 light years (460parsecs). The angular size of the object cannot given from this perspective, but this particular image has an angular size of 17 arc minutes. The actual nebula is over 60 arc minutes across. This image you see here has a linear size of 7.4 light years. The full size nebula has a linear distance of about 30 light years, which gives you an idea of how large it must be.

References:
Nasa "Hubble Panoramic View of Orion Nebula Reveals Thousands of Stars" <http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2006/01/>.

Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "Messier 42" <http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m042.html>

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:37:17
Declination (J2000) -05:23:28
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in B, 20x15 seconds in C, 10x30 seconds in R, 10x30 seconds in V
Date observed

March 29, 2009 at 11:06pm