M 78. NGC 2068 and NGC 2071


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Messier 78 is a “classic”. It belongs to a catalog that contains many of the most beautiful objects in the night sky. This image displays some different nebulae: Just at the center is M 78, a reflection nebula that was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1780. On the upper left, NGC 2071, another reflection nebula and, across the image, several dark nebulae like the Orion BDN Complex, BDN 206-16, LDN 1627, P134 and others. In the image, also two oddities can be spotted: the McNeil’s Nebula and HH24.

The McNeil’s Nebula was discovered photographically by Julian McNeil in January 2004. No signs of this nebula were spotted before September 2003. Although it was considered a totally new nebula associated to a star (IRAS 05436-0007 located at the tip of the triangular shaped nebula) that had bursted into brilliance after having accreted enough gas and having ignited. It is now, more prudently, considered a variable nebula. This nebula is located at the center of the lower right quarter. Find below a comparison of a previous image, taken with The 4m Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak (below, before the “eruption”), an image taken with the 2.2m ESO telescope at La Silla (above, after the “eruption”) and a cropped section of this image (right)

Image: ESO/T. A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF and Igor Chekalin
 Image: Josep Drudis

The Herbig-Haro object HH24 is the anchor shaped reddish nebulosity close to the lower right corner.

Additional Information


Name(s): M 78. NGC 2068

Type: Reflection Nebula

RA:  05h 46m 41s

Dec: +00º 02’ 53.9”

Constellation: Orion

Size (arcmin): 12×9

Magnitude: +8.3

Distance: 1,600 ly


Date: 2017-12-18 thru 2018-01-17

Location: iTelescope.net, SSO near Coonabarabran, NSW Australia

Size (arcmin): 36×36

Telescope: Planewave CDK 20” f/6.8

Camera: SBIG STX16803 (4096x4096pix)

Guiding: Astrodon MonsterMOAG off-axis guider

Total exposure: 23 hours 15 min (L: 16x15min; R: 18×15 min; G: 25×15 min; B: 34×15 min)

Processing: CCDStack, Photoshop CC 2018

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