NGC1976 - M42
DSS image of NGC1976
Digitized Sky Survey image of NGC1976, 60' x 60' with north at top and west to the right

DSS image of NGC1976
Overlaid DSS image of NGC1976, 60' x 60' with north at top and west to the right
Orion Nebula

Type  Bright Nebula
Magnitude  4
Size  90' x 66'
RA (2000)  5h 35' 16.5"
Dec (2000)  5° 23' 23" S
Constellation  Orion
Description  !!!, Theta Orionis and the great nebula M42

Observing Notes

Andrew Cooper
14 Feb 2016 Waikoloa, HI (map)
20cm f/10 SCT, Celestron C8 @ 57x

Large, bright, beautiful even with a first quarter Moon at zenith just 30° away. trapezium sharp, quite a bit of structure visible along the northern edge

Andrew Cooper
14 Sep 2015 Hale Pohaku, HI (map)
15cm f/5 Newtonian, Makaʻiki @ 19x

Beautiful! A 40mm eyepiece in the RFT allows the whole complex to be seen from NGC1980 to NGC1981. The main nebula is bright with sweeps of gas spreading to either side of ΘOri, with averted vision the loop is almost closed to the south
Commisioning a new 'scope, Makaʻiki, first light on M42, Bob Goff often declared his desire to visit this nebula in sprit after his death, here and now under a dark sky and beside a hand-made telescope I remember

Andrew Cooper
17 Nov 2009 Hale Pohaku, HI (map)
46cm f/4.5 Newtonian, Deep Violet @ 95x

Absolutely sublime under a dark sky and with the big 'scope, a great deal of detail to be seen, the northern edges are well defined great sweeps of gas, the central core around the trapezium is notably mottled, six stars easily made out in the central cavity, the entire structure is vividly green in color, just a hint of salmon on the northern edge

Andrew Cooper
22 Oct 2006 TIMPA, Avra Valley, AZ (map)
12x36 Canon Image Stabilized Binoculars

Beautiful! large! bright! extensive nebula over a degree across, several involved stars, trapezium not split, the entire region from NGC1981 to Iota Ori fills the field with beauty

Andrew Cooper
12 Jan 2002 Las Cienegas, Sonoita, AZ (map)
46cm f/4.5 Deep Violet

Very large, bright, clearly green with a hint of red around the margins. a squarish bright region around the trapezium with the 'wings' spreading east-west from there, the eastern loop is visible for 180 degrees around to the south of the main core

Charles Messier
4 Jan 1769

Position of the beautiful nebula in the sword of Orion, around the star Theta which contains with three other smaller stars which one cannot see but with good instruments. Messier has entered into treat details in this great nebula; he has created a drawing, made with the greatest care, which one can see in the Memoirs of the Academy for 1771, plate VIII. It was Huygens who discovered it in 1656: it has been observed since by many astronomers. Reported in the English Atlas."

Rev. T.W. Webb
Hardwick, Herefordshire, England (map)

The Great Nebula, one of the most wonderful objects in the heavens; readily visible to the naked eye, yet strangely missed, as Humbolt says, by Galileo, who paid great attention to Orion.

Telescope shows an irregular branching mass or greenish haze, in some directions moderately well defined where the dark sky penetrates it in deep openings: in others melting imperceptibly away over such an extent that Se., by moving his telescope rapidly to gain full contrast, has traced it in singular convolutions, and with a considerable break near σ through 5½° of Decl., and 4° of R.A. —from ζ to 49, and probably H. V 38 -a prodigious diffusion.

Bond II also found it encompassed by a distant nebulous loop; and in various parts detected about 20 curved wreaths, indicating somewhat of a spiral structure, Its real nature was long a profound mystery. It resisted H.'s 40-ft. refl., in which it was one of the first objects viewed, and, together with the Andromeda, suggested to him the widely discussed Nebula Hypothesis, which would see here an unformed fiery mist, the chaotic material of future suns. h. found but the aspect of 'a curdling liquid, or a surface strewed over with flocks of wool, or the breaking up of a mackerel sky.'

The E. of Rosse, with his 3-ft. refl., La., with his 2-ft. spec. in the Maltese sky, could advance no further; it was long believed that the 6-ft. mirror of the E. of Rosse had lifted the veil, and distinguished in some places its starry composition; Bond, too, arrived at the same conclusion; and Se. with smaller, but very perfect means, though he could detect the glittering 'star dust.'

Yet, though this would imply a permanent form, there were some strange discrepancies in the drawings of the best hands. h., in England, the same observer at the Cape of Good Hope, Bond, La., Liapounov with a 9-½in. achr. at Kazan. OΣ, at Poulkova, all differ in various ways; the latter even believed that the brightness of the central part was in a state of continual variation; and the subsequently published labors or Rosse, La., and Se., are far from correspondent in detail. All this is strange; and the spectrum analysis of Huggins has only added to the wonder by exhibiting it as a mass of incandescent gasses.

In the densest part, four stars, 6, 7, 7.5, 8 mg., form a trapezium known as Theta Orionis. Sm. gives their colors pale w., faint lilac, garnet, reddish. OΣ thinks that several involved stars are subject to change, and remarks that 'the existence of so many variable stars on such a small space in the central part of the most curious nebula in the heavens must of course induce us to suppose these phenomena intimately connect with the mysterious nature of that body.' (abridged)
Other Data Sources for NGC1976
Nearby objects for NGC1976
Acknowledgements and Credits...

Drawings, descriptions and CCD photos are copyright Andrew Cooper unless otherwise noted, no usage without permission. Use for non-profit and educational reasons is generally given on request.

Positional and some physical information is from the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Additional object data from the SIMBAD database, operated at CDS, Strasbourg, France.

The Digitized Sky Survey was produced at the Space Telescope Science Institute under U.S. Government grant NAG W-2166. The images of these surveys are based on photographic data obtained using the Oschin Schmidt Telescope on Palomar Mountain and the UK Schmidt Telescope.

Dark nebulae data from E.E. Barnard, A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way. Ed. Edwin B. Frost and Mary R. Calvert. Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1927

Object descriptions of Rev. Webb from Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes sixth edition, Rev. T.W. Webb, 1917, edited by Rev T.E.Espin.