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The Orion Nebula (M42) -- Located in the constellation Orion



step 1
Locate the constellation Orion.
find Orion Nebula step one
step 2
Next, find the three stars that make up Orion's belt.
find Orion Nebula step two
step 3
Above the belt, you will see a bright red star. This is Betelgeuse.
find Orion Nebula step three
step 4
Draw a line from Betelgeuse down through the left star in Orion's belt, Alnitak. This is the direction toward which Orion's sword points.
find Orion Nebula step four
step 5
Now track toward the bottom of the sword; this is where you'll find the Orion Nebula.
find Orion Nebula step five

That was pretty easy, right? Still, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back, because you've just found one of the coolest things you can see it the night sky. But that doesn't mean you should stop looking. There's plenty more to see!

Interesting Orion Facts

Orion, The Hunter, is probably the most well-known of all the constellations. Wielding his large club or sword, he cuts an imposing figure in the night sky. Two bright stars, Rigel and Betelgeuse, along with the three stars of his belt make Orion easy to find and recognize.

  • The Orion Nebula is also known as the Great Nebula and the Great Orion Nebula.
  • It's located 1,270 light years from Earth.
  • The Orion Nebula is visible to the naked eye, even from areas affected by some light pollution.
  • Some mythologies say Orion was raised to the heavens by the gods after falling victim to the venomous sting of a scorpion, also represented in the night sky by the constellation Scorpio.
  • Others suggest Orion was in pursuit of more than wild game. The famous Seven Sisters of the Pleiades, who live on in the star cluster of the same name, seem to stand at the source of the trail Orion follows.
  • If the stories of the night sky are to be believed, Orion prefers hunting with his dogs. The constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor appear to be following the hunter.
  • See the Most of the Orion Nebula


    You'll be able to see the Orion Nebula with any telescope. How much detail comes through depends on magnification, light capturing ability, and optical quality.

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    Telescope Eyepieces

    Quality eyepieces won't just improve your view of the Orion Nebula, but you'll enjoy all the night sky has to offer in greater detail with the right eyepieces in your arsenal.

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    Telescope Accessories

    Complete your Orion viewing experience with the right accessories. Everything from eyepiece filters to telescope cases is here to make stargazing easier and more rewarding.

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    M42 & M13: courtesy of Tim Hunter and James McGaha, Grasslands Observatory at; M31 & M45: courtesy of Herm Perez,; M8: courtesy of Bob Star, / CC BY 2.0

    2009: The International Year of Astronomy

    With the theme "The Universe, Yours to Discover," a United Nations agency is bringing astronauts, artists, scientists, academics, and others together during the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first observation of the heavens in 1609.

    Telescopes 101

    Spend some time reading these articles and you will dramatically improve your knowledge of telescopes to help you choose the one best for you.

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