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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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The Orion Nebula (M 42) , Evan Elliot

M42

This beautiful image is part of the brightest diffuse nebula in the sky. At a distance of around 1,500 light years and an angular diameter of 66x60 arc minutes, it can be visible under even the smallest of telescopes if not the naked eye. Its more than four times the size of our Full Moon. Even with it's immense size and brightness it was not discovered and documented until the early 1600's. It was most likely first discovered by French lawyer Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, but was not documented until other astronomers independently discovered and researched the nebula.

M 42, the main nebula and the image shown here, was actually the first nebula to be successful photographed, and has been a popular target for astronomers to study. It is made up of a very turbulent cloud of gas and dust, that is actually a part of a much larger molecular cloud that extends across the constellation of Orion. The whole Orion Cloud is 1,000 times more massive than the sun. The red coloration in the picture is reflected light from the stars, and the dark streaks are clouds of dust that give shape to the image.

References:
Pasachoff, Jay M. Astronomy: From The Earth To The Universe. Sixth ed. N.p.: Thomson Learning Inc., 2002. 663-64. Print.

Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "Messier 42." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. <http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m042.htmll>

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:35:54
Declination (J2000) -05:26:25
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in B,V,R,C
Date observed

November 7, 2009