Orion Nebula - Hubble Telescope shot - Framed Picture - 20"H x 16"W
A 20"H x 16"W" framed picture of Orion Nebula - Hubble Telescope shot
The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion. 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 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.
The Orion Nebula is one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky, and is among the most intensely studied celestial features.
The nebula is visible with the naked eye even from areas affected by some light pollution. It is seen as the middle "star" in the "sword" of Orion, which are the three stars located south of Orion's Belt.
There has been speculation that the Mayans of Central America may have described the nebula within their "Three Hearthstones" creation myth; if so, the three would correspond to two stars at the base of Orion, Rigel and Saiph, and another, Alnitak at the tip of the "belt" of the imagined hunter, the vertices of a nearly perfect equilateral triangle with Orion's Sword (including the Orion Nebula) in the middle of the triangle seen as the smudge of smoke from copal incense in a modern myth, or, in (the translation it suggests of) an ancient one, the literal or figurative embers of a fiery creation.
The first discovery of the diffuse nebulous nature of the Orion Nebula is generally credited to French astronomer Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, on 26 November 1610 when he made a record of observing it with a refracting telescopeCharles Messier first noted the nebula on March 4, 1769, and he also noted three of the stars in Trapezium. Messier published the first edition of his catalog of deep sky objects in 1774 (completed in 1771). As the Orion Nebula was the 42nd object in his list, it became identified as M42.