Messier 42 (M 42) - Orion Nebula

Introduction | Map | Sketch | Pseudo Photo (Stellarium) | My Own Observations | My Own Photos | References

On this page I collect my observations of the galactic emission nebula M 42/43, also called Orion Nebula, in the Orion constellation.



The Orion Nebula M 42 together with its "annex" M 43 is probably the largest galactic emission nebula in the northern sky. It is found in Orion's sword, that is, in the constellation Orion, and at least the sword is usually visible to the naked eye. M 43 was formerly considered as a separate nebula, but today it is regarded as part of M 42. In winter, M 43 is located slightly above M 42.

It is said that the Orion Nebula can be seen with the naked eye. This definitely depends on the viewing conditions, but the sword can be seen shimmering in any case when it is dark enough. It is difficult to tell for me what exactly is the the nebula in all this shimmering... Using binoculars, one can already see the nebula well and within it two bright stars. One of them is the Trapezium, an arrangement of 4 closely spaced stars at the center of the nebula. I was, however, able to resolve the Trapezium only at higher magnifications in the telescope.

In simple terms, the Orion Nebula has approximately the same size as the Moon or Sun (25 'x 30'). How extended it actually appears depends, on the one hand, on the viewing conditions and, on the other hand, on the dark adaptation of one's own eyes.

Size: 25 'x 30' (Stoyan)
Distance: 1,300 light years (Stoyan)
Ranking: ***** (Stoyan)



M 42 and M 43 in Orion's sword



The sketch by Michael Vlasov ( provides a rough impression of what I observed in February 2017 (my impression was much fainter than the sketch):

Sketch of the Orion Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission


Pseudo Photo (Stellarium)

Pseudo photo of M 42 taken from Stellarium (large version, larger version)


My Own Observations

Observations Winter 2015/16

Observations February to Mid-March 2017

When I used the GoTo control for the first time, I started my observations with M 42 and afterwards returned to it from time to time to check whether the GoTo control was still correctly adjusted.

Observations End of March 2017

Observations November 2017

Observations December 2017 - April 2018

Observations February 2019 ff


My Own Photos

Atik Infinity & Explorer 150PDS (February 12, 2018)


M 42 (Orion), unprocessed


Ditto, post-processed


Ditto, post-processed and sharpened


Ditto, brighter in second step*


Ditto, b&w version


Dito, even brighter (3 steps)*

*) The quality suffered by doing these steps afterwards...

Further later post-processing attemps:


Ditto, once again created from the unprocessed original in one step


Ditto, processed to be brighter


Ditto, created from "replay stack" in one step


Ditto, same as left, more saturated

Photos taken with Sky-Watcher Explorer 150PDS (February 12, 2018), 600 x 600 section with 1:1 pixels in the large version

Atik Infinity & Explorer 150PDS (February 21, 2018)


M 42 (Orion), unprocessed


Ditto, processed and sharpened


Ditto, processed alternatively and sharpened

Photos taken with Sky-Watcher Explorer 150PDS (February 21, 2018), 600 x 600 section with 1:1 pixels in the large version

Atik Infinity & Explorer 150PDS (April 6, 2018)


M 42/43 (Orion), unprocessed


Ditto, post-processed


Ditto, post-processed and noise removed

Photos taken with Sky-Watcher Explorer 150PDS (April 6, 2018), reduced from original photo to 600 x 450 pixels




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