Messier 78 (M 78)

Introduction | Map | Find/Identify | Sketch | My Own Photos | My Own Observations | References

On this page I collect my observations of the galactic recflection nebula M 78 in the Orion constellation.



The galactic reflection nebula M 78 in the constellation Orion constellation is not on my "Winter list" (it has only a "one star" rating...), but because it seemed easy to find to me, I looked out for it, as well.

February 2017 ... December 2019

Well, all search seemed to be in vain - I did find M 78 neither with binoculars nor with the small 100P Dobsonian telescope (4") - not even with GoTo mount. With the larger 8 " Dobsonian GSD 680 telescope I might have caught a glimpse of M 78 and another nebulous object, but I would not want to denote this as "find"... But finally, on February 26 (new moon), I indeed found a weak glimpse of M 78 with my Heritage P130 5" Dobsonian telescope on my GoTo mount (and thus, conclude that I had seen it with the GSD 680 as well). And only in December 2019, I saw M 78 well for the first time with my new C8, and was able to identify it without any doubts.

Beginning of 2020

Wit the eVscope I was able to see more details under a dark sky.

Size: 5' x 4' (Stoyan)
Distance: 1,200 light years (Stoyan)
Rating: * (Stoyan)



M 42 and M 43 in Orion's sword; M 78 (top left) is located between Alnitak and Betelgeuse (Image Courtesy of SkySafari Astronomy,



Find: M 78 is located at 1/4 of the distance between the left girdle star Alnitak (you need not remember this name ...) to the left of "shoulder star" Betelgeuse and a small amount outside (or to the left...) of Orion's body.

Identify: When I see a "shimmer" with two stars in it, I know that I have found M 78 (see the sketch). (Image Courtesy of SkySafari Astronomy,



The sketch by Michael Vlasov ( provides a rough impression of what I should have - and may have - observed:

Sketch of the M78 Nebula by Michael Vlasov (Copyright © Michael Vlasov 2016) - presented with the author's permission


My Own Photos



M 78 - Jan 28, 2020, processed


M 78 - Feb 6, 2020


M 78 - Feb 6, 2020, processed


M 78 - Feb 16, 2020, processed


M 78 - Feb 24, 2020


M 78 - Feb 24, 2020, processed


M 78 - Mar 18, 2020


M 78 - Mar 18 2020, left version processed

  M 78 - Mar 22, 2020

M 78 - Mar 22, 2020, top right version processed


M 78 - Mar 22, 2020, top right version processed alternatively


M 78 - Mar 22, 2020, top right version processed darker


My Own Observations

Observations February/March 2017

Observations End of March 2017

Observations December 2019

Observations January 2020

Observations February to March 2020



On this Site