The Orion Nebula

The European Southern Observatory has delivered one of the most beautiful images of the Orion Nebula that I’ve seen.

Orion Nebula from the European Southern Observatory

Using their 2.2 meter telescope at the Silia Observatory in Chile, with a series of 5 different filters, the image is close to what one would observe with the naked eye.  But, one needs to remember that the CCDs can collect photons of light over time and build up an image that we humans would not be able to see with the physiology of our eyes.  We wouldn’t be able to see the delicate gossamer structure with the subtle color changes that the CCD can.  So enjoy this beautiful image on your computer!

Orion is riding high in the cold winter night sky and one can easily see the Orion Nebula just below the belt of Orion on the constellation’s left side, as can be seen below.

Constellation of Orion - Credit: Mouser Williams

Orion harbors many wonders, including the red supergiant Betelgeuse marking his upper right shoulder and Rigel, a blue supergiant that marks Orion’s left foot.  Betelgeuse is so large that if placed at the center of our Solar System it would extend beyond Mars and the asteroid belt!  Another jewel that lies within the constellation is the Horsehead nebula, located near the left-most star making up Orion’s belt.

Horsehead Nebula in Orion - Wikimedia Commons

Next time you’re out and about at night, check out Orion, and if you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope available, take some time to check out the jewels that lie within the Orion constellation.

Till next time,

RC Davison

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