Orion and the Great Orion Nebula

February 01, 2014

Orion and the Great Orion Nebula

Photographer: Mohamed Laaifat
Summary Authors: Mohamed Laaifat; Jim Foster

The photo above shows the majestic constellation of Orion as observed from Caen, France, on the evening of December 25, 2013. Betelgeuse (Orion’s left shoulder) is at upper left and Rigel (Orion’s right foot) is at lower center – two of the brightest stars in the night sky. Orion is visible nearly all over the world at this time of year. In order to assess the darkness of the night sky where you live, count the stars in Orion and submit your results here.

The bright blurry-looking object in the middle of Orion’s sword (left center) is the Orion Nebula or M42. This great star-forming cloud is some 1,340 light years distant and approximately 2,000 times as massive as our Sun. While it's one of the brightest nebulae visible with the naked eye a long exposure time makes it appears brighter than is actually the case.

Photo details: Camera Model: NIKON D60; Lens: Sigma 30.0mm (35mm equivalent: 45mm); Aperture: f/2.0; Exposure Time: 10.000 s; ISO equiv: 1600; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS2 Windows.