Images of the constellation Orion and the Great Orion Nebula - M42

Orion, a constellation often referred to as The Hunter, is a prominent constellation, perhaps the best-known and most conspicuous in the sky. Its brilliant stars are found on the celestial equator and are visible throughout the world, making this constellation universally recognized. In the northern hemisphere Orion is visible in the evening from November to April. Orion is standing next to the river Eridanus with his two hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor, fighting Taurus the bull. Other prey of his, such as Lepus the hare, can be found nearby.

In Australia, the belt and sword of Orion are sometimes called the Saucepan, because the stars of Orion's belt and sword resemble this kitchen utensil as seen from the southern hemisphere. Orion's Belt is called "The Three Kings" (or "The Magi") in some places. The constellation is also known as an "Amber" in other commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom.

View from my back garden. 30 second exposure using the Canon 350D piggybacked on a Meade LXD75 mount.

M42 The Great Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion's Belt. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of about 1,500 light years away, and is the closest region of star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 30 light years across. The Orion Nebula is considered to be one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky, and is among the most intensely-studied celestial features. The nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have directly observed protoplanetary disks, brown dwarfs, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula.
Living in light polluted south west London it can be pretty difficult pick anything faint out of the red haze that is the night sky. Using filters and post processing techniques it's just possible to get some reasonable shots. I have to admit I was really chuffed with the results. I have also included an image I took last year (2005) of M42 using the Meade LPI. I think the new ones are a slight improvement.
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