Have you seen nebula in the sky any time before? If not, be ready to explore some of them with me!
If you are wondering why nebulas are such grand objects to view in the sky, then you must read this blog!
Do you know that stars born not only from nebulas but finally end up also into nebulas when they die?
In perfect peace, nebulas are dense clusters of gas and dust, but when unsettled by gravitational force or otherwise, the part of it turns into a star. In this way, the nebula is a star factory continuously churning out tens of thousands of stars.
These stars emit high levels of energy and radiations turning the rest of the nebula pinkish red. That is why nebula looks so colorful and impressive when seen through the telescope.
But where do nebulas exist in the sky?
They exist in the space between the stars also known as interstellar space.
The Orion nebula is the quickest and easiest one to locate in the sky. It is as far as almost 1300 light-years from our planet. It is called so because it is located in the Orion constellation.
The Orion Nebula is also known as Messier 42, NGC 1976 or M42. By a rough estimate, the Orion nebula spans across 100 light years or so!
It is perhaps the nearest star-forming area from our solar system. The Orion Nebula falls in the category of the diffuse nebula as it emits own light or reflects light from the surrounding stars.
You can also see the Orion nebula with naked eyes. For the first time, its image was captured in 1880 by William Huggins, an American amateur astronomer.
But how would you locate it?
In the months of August and September, you can view the Orion Constellation in the east at least one-half to two hours before dawn.
Just locate the bright star Betelgeuse at the top left side of the Constellation. When you draw a line connecting it with the star located most easterly in Orion’s Belt and extend it further, you will arrive at the Orion Nebula.
Our eyes cannot detect colors when objects appear dim, and that is why powerful telescopes are needed to see the Orion nebula in multicolor.
For a majestic view of the Orion Nebula, use a telescope with a minimum 4-inch aperture. The interesting thing is that every year when you see you will have a different view of it because it gives birth to new stars every year along with its changing dynamics!
If you could notice the orange or crimson color in the nebula, then it is because of hydrogen and the green color is due to oxygen in the Orion nebula.
Scientists consider the Orion nebula as the nursery of stars – a perfect laboratory to explore how stars formation takes place because it is closest from our Earth.
The Eagle Nebula
The Eagle Nebula is a famous star-forming nebula and worth observing in the clear sky. It is also known as Messier 16 or M16 in the scientific world of astronomers. The nebula presents a majestic sight with its three Pillars of Creation that was first photographed by Hubble in 1995.
The nebula is named so because it resembles an Eagle in its shape.
The Eagle Nebula is located almost 7,000 light years from Earth. The nebula is famous for its pillar structure stretching almost 70 light years.
Where can you locate the Eagle Nebula?
You need to see for this Nebula in the constellation Scutum. First, find out the star Gamma Scuti in this constellation. It is a white giant with an apparent magnitude of 4.70. Moving 2-3 degrees west of it, you will have a spectacular view of the Eagle Nebula.
A 4-inch telescope can provide you fairly a good view of the Eagle Nebula. You may want to view the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula and for that; you need to choose a 12-inch scope for its majestic view.
The Helix Nebula
Another nearby Nebula, relatively, is the Helix Nebula; it is located only 700 light years from Earth. It is called so because it has a coil-like structure.
Some astronomers refer the Helix as the “Eye of God.”
As such, it is a planetary nebula in our Milky Way.
By the way, what do you know about the planetary nebula?
The planetary nebula is a cluster of gas emitted by a medium-sized dying star. When a star is in the process of dying, then a planetary nebula begins forming.
As such, it has nothing to do with the planets of a dying star!
Do you know that our Sun will also turn into a planetary nebula after almost five billion years or so?
The Helix Nebula can be seen in the constellation Aquarius. While it spans across almost six light years in size, it never appears high in the sky. Due to low surface brightness, the Helix nebula remains largely elusive if the sky is not sufficiently clear or free of light pollution.
This means you need to track the Helix quite carefully! Also, you need to spot the Helix in the correct region of the sky.
When viewed with a binocular, the Helix Nebula appears like a full-moon object but almost half of the size of the moon in the sky!
When viewed with a 3″ telescope, you will be able to notice the ring-like structure. It can be observed much higher in the sky at southern latitudes, but from the northern sky, it can be seen 12-16 degrees above the horizon.
If you want to view the central portion of the Helix, then you need to use 8” reflector with a magnifying power of nearly 80-90x. For improved color vision, you can also use a UHC filter for viewing this nebula.
The Helix Nebula can be located in the sky with the help of Fomalhaut Star. The Helix lies at 10-14 degrees northwest of Fomalhaut, which is the brightest star in that region of the sky. Otherwise, the region is full of only faint stars.
Fomalhaut is also closer to Earth at the distance of only 25 light-years away.
Where can you see Fomalhaut in the sky?
From the Southern Hemisphere, it is fairly easy to see Fomalhaut as it is conspicuous by its luminosity without any other bright star around. While from the Northern Hemisphere it lies low, still it can be viewed in the months of October through December with ease!
There are many other fascinating nebulas such as Dragon Nebula, Three-ring Nebula, the Cat’s Nebula and many more.
You can see the clusters of the “sword” of Orion, which, in combination with the nebulae, and we’ll talk about them later, will look good in any binoculars or telescope.
You can pay attention to the stars forming the constellations, and Orionids – the radiant of the meteor shower, which is usually observed from November to the beginning – mid-December. Please note that under Orion you can see the constellation Hare, about which we have a separate article.
So, where to start dating Orion? Probably, it should be said that at least half of the objects that will be discussed are a rather small 70-80 mm telescope. However, for a deeper acquaintance, it is worth armed with a larger tool.
More info: https://astrobackyard.com/orion-nebula/
1) Great Orion Nebula. M42 and NGC 1977 (Running Man)
The Orion Great Nebula is a masterpiece left by the birth and evolution of stars in Cosmos. It is best to observe it in the sky, where it is visible to the naked eye (although even in the city you can see the central part of the telescope), since it is in the case of a dark sky that you will see magnificence, like a photo on the right, only without colors. Although there are reports of observers about the visibility of various shades.
Personally, I saw yellow shades in the center of the nebula in 16 “and 12” telescopes, and when the sky is lit, the nebula seems greenish, which, in my opinion, is an artifact, but rather interesting effect.
Observe the Orion Nebula is many-sided, it is an object for a separate study. A little note. Describing the details of this and other objects, we will mean that we are talking about the sky, suitable for the study of objects in deep space, that is, at least about the dark yellow-green observation zone.
So, if you have a small 60-80mm refractor at your disposal, first use a viewing eyepiece with magnification up to 50 times and a good field of view. In the complex, you will see the bright center of the M42 nebula, the trapezoid stars in the center may not be separated, but the overall impression will be worthwhile. Move the pipe across the “wings of the nebula,” from below there will be good views of the clusters of the “Sword” of Orion.
When lighting and to increase the contrast, use filters. On small telescopes, UHC-S, CLS or UHC filters are suitable, especially in the presence of light. Filters highlight dark and light areas, increase image contrast.
Having 114mm in the arsenal, and a better 130mm telescope, you can lift up to 100 times without such a serious loss of brightness, where you can see cloudy twists around the center and near the wings. On the ideal sky, the periphery of the nebula is well manifested.
However, always when observing the M42, do not buy into its deceptive brightness – aspire to a dark sky, where it will reveal even more details.
When the legendary hunter Orion became so proud that he began to strike anyone and began to pursue the Pleiades, the goddess Gaia sent a scorpion who killed him, and Zeus placed him in the sky, where he continues to “walk” behind the Pleiades in the daily rotation of the sky.
But let’s leave the ancient legends, and move on to practice. Few people noticed in the sky or at least did not hear about the constellation of Orion. The most beautiful figure of stars, bright enough to be visible even from cities, attracts the attention of even people far from astronomy.
Bright stars Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Riegel have different luminosity and color, which in combination with the belt of Orion gives a special charm to this constellation. Indeed, unlike some Giraffe, which is very difficult to associate with an animal that gave it a name, in Orion an ancient hunter is easily guessed.
Running man and M42
The 150mm-200mm telescope gives a little more room for the applicability of filters; it is worth trying the OIII filter, which very seriously increases the detail of the oxygen component of the nebula. In general, in a 6-8 “telescope, the view of this object is so impressive that a trained person can be shocked. At the same time, it is better to first look at some dim display object so that the vision can be adapted to maximum sensitivity.
The companion BTO is the NGC 1977 nebula, which is also very interesting, above all, by a different response to light filters than its famous neighbor.
A separate conversation on the observation of the M42 opens for the owners of 10 “and large apertures. In addition to the absolutely incredible detail, which literally repeats the photos, color shades appear and, more importantly, there is a real opportunity to apply a somewhat non-standard filter for the M42 – H-Beta. With it go off many details of the nebula, however, the attentive observer will see that new ones appear, thus, to some extent, alternating the OIII and H-beta filters, we see a different object.
M78 and NGC 2071
These two objects are tough nuts for small telescopes. And yet, when searching for them on large apertures, you always notice a slight heterogeneity in … Seeker 50mm. In short, starting from the green observation zone, the M78 is precisely accessible to small (up to 90mm) telescopes in the form of a small cloud.
The interest in observing it is because it has a slightly different nature – it is a reflection nebula, that is, it mainly shines at the expense of stars that illuminate gas and dust, and not due to the glow and ionization of gas, as in ordinary emission nebulae.
Do not apply filters for M78, and generally for reflective nebulae. They, like galaxies, are very afraid of the bad sky and the transparency of the atmosphere, and under good conditions, they become very interesting. I advise you to use a telescope for detailed study of the M78 10 “-12”, although the owners of large apertures 14-16 “will undoubtedly reveal additional details, it is in 10” -12 “devices that the main aspects of this object are usually visible.
Let’s turn our attention to another class of objects – planetary nebulae. Yes, Orion “hides into itself” a rather interesting similarity to the famous “Ring” M57. True, this nebula has a low stellar magnitude (different sources range from 11.6 to 14+ m), but in reality, due to its small size and sufficient surface brightness, it is available for observations at 8 “and more telescopes.
It responds well to OIII and UHC filter, this nebula resembles a ring of smoke in its shape. The object is also interesting because in 10 “I have often seen a greenish tint in it on increasing to 100x when the nebula is only slightly larger than the stars. Consider its small angular size when searching. I usually start with the stars of Orion’s “head” and move along the constellation in the direction of foggy, looking into the viewing eyepiece.
In an approximate area, it is useful to “blink,” introducing – taking out the filter between the eye and the eyepiece. The nebula is very noticeable “jumping out” against the background of nearby stars. Many people asked me if it was realistic to see this planetary in a 6 “telescope. The answer is simple – really, in the blue zone, my 150 / 2270mm Cassegrain Alter M615 coped with it.
More cool pics: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html
NGC 2194 and the other two scatters
A good, quite interesting star cluster in the “baton” of Orion. It will require a 100 mm telescope in order to interest the observer, although it is also available in a smaller aperture. I also recommend the NGC 2169 cluster – it is even brighter (you can see it well in a 90mm refractor), which is interesting, the stars in it (in a 6 “telescope) form a clear number 37 (although this may be just an illusion).
Look and tell about your impressions of this object. Generally, I’m not a big fan of open clusters, however, for owners of 6 “and more tools, which, at the same time, have a decent field of view, I recommend trying NGC 2112 – it is much less concentrated.