• Acquisition Date/s: 1 January, 2022 to 4 January, 2022
  • Location: Private Observatory in Castilléjar, Spain
  • OTA: Orion 8″ f/3.9 Newtonian Astrograph
  • Mount: Sky-Watcher EQ8-R Pro
  • Imaging: ASI2600MC Pro (Sony IMX571 APS-C sensor); Temp: -12°C; Binning: 1
  • Guiding: ASI120MM Mini (AR0130CS 1/3″ sensor) – OAG
  • Filters: None
  • Acquisition Software: Voyager
  • Stacking & Calibration: PixInsight 1.8 — 892 subframes, 19.5 hrs total integration time
  • Processing: PixInsight 1.8; Photoshop 2022; Topaz DeNoise AI; Topaz Sharpen AI
  • Designations: Messier 42, M 42, NGC 1976
  • Object Type: Nebula; Open Cluster
  • Coordinates: R.A. 5h 36m 22s; Dec. -5° 22′ 13″
  • Distance: 1344 ly
  • Mag(v): 4.0
  • Copyright: All rights reserved.

Gallery Hyperlink (click here for a larger version of the image)

Flight Through the Orion Nebula in Visible and Infrared Light [Ultra HD]


The Orion Nebula, Charles Messier’s 42nd entry in his catalogue, is visible to the naked eye on a clear night in the sword of Orion, hanging from his belt of three stars. Located approximately 1350 light-years away and 25 light-years in diameter, it is the closest “star nursery” to Earth, where new stars are forming today. This proximity of a star-forming region gives astronomers a great view into what things might have looked like when our Sun was born 4,6 billion years ago. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, M42 is approximately two million years old. Four bright stars form the heart of M42, called the Trapezium Cluster, also known as Theta1 Orionis. They produce extreme radiation that pushes the gas and dust away around them, making the quartet of stars visible.

Hydrogen comprises a single proton, one electron, and no neutrons. Therefore, it is the simplest element and the first created after the Big Bang. This makes it the most commonly found element in space; some even say it makes up approximately 90% of the visible universe. Clouds of ionized hydrogen are called HII regions that often form new stars, and it usually shows up in red in photographs.

During the 1700s, the French astronomer Charles Messier observed several “nebulous objects” in the night sky. At first, he thought they were comets, but he later compiled a catalogue of more than a hundred of these objects to make it easier for others to identify in the future. These clouds of gas and dust in space are called nebulae, from the Latin word “nebula”, meaning “cloud”. Some areas in the gas clouds form new stars, while the gas and dust in other regions are debris from stars that have exploded and died. There are four types of nebulae: planetary nebulae, reflection nebulae, emission (often star-forming) nebulae, and absorption (dark) nebulae. The famous Orion Nebula is both an emission and reflection nebula because it emits and reflects radiation from ionized gas.

Because of its brightness, many cultures attach special meaning to Orion. Mayans compare the traditional, triangular fireplace in the middle of their homes to the three “hearthstones of Creation” – Orion’s feet (the stars Saiph and Rigel) and his belt. The nebula makes up the cosmic flames of Creation, shrouded in smoke at the centre of the triangle. The analogy to the heavenly fires of Creation is well suited because astronomers now consider the Orion nebula part of the larger Orion molecular cloud complex, including the Flame nebula. This large cloud complex of our Milky Way galaxy is actively birthing new stars.