Alt. Designations: NGC 1976, Orion Nebula
Object Type: Nebula  (H II region)
Constellation: Orion
Distance: 1.3 kly
Right Ascension: 05h 35m 17.1s
Declination: -05° 23´ 25"
Visual Magnitude: 4
Apparent Dimension: 65.0´ x 60.0´
Best Month To View: Dec

Located in the constellation of Orion is one of the most impressive sights in the night sky. M42, also known as the Orion Nebula or the Great Nebula of Orion, is a gigantic cloud of gas and dust over 30 light-years in diameter. It is located about 1,500 light-years from the Earth. M42 is a site of active star formation, and the stars within this nebula cause it to shine with a magnitude of 4. This makes it one of the few nebulae that can be seen with the naked eye. The most famous of these stars is a small cluster known as the Trapezium. A pair of binoculars will show the basic structure of this nebula, while a small telescope will reveal intricate details within its dusty lanes.