Catch a glimpse of marvelous Orion Nebula from your Arizona yard
One of the most amazing objects that Arizona sky watchers can view in January is the amazing star factory in Orion the Hunter, better known as the Orion Nebula.
The constellation is located high in the southeastern sky after sunset.
Orion has many bright stars and a its famous belt of three bright stars that are easy to view with the naked eye. The three stars are Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka in ascending order from the left side of the constellation.
The real celestial treat lies just below these three stars and form a magical sword, tucked into the belt of Orion.
Right in the middle portion of the sword is the nebula that lies some 1,270 light years from Earth, the largest star creator in our solar system.
To fully understand the distance dynamics of this nebula: The light that you see see left the nebula around 748 A.D. — during the Dark Ages — and just got here!
This is an easy object for observes to find and observe, but binoculars and a telescope will reveal an amazing sight.
I view the nebula on a regular basis in an 8-inch telescope and the object looks like a glowing fan of gas and dust, with four tiny blue stars that are in the shape of a little trapezoid called the Trapezium.
The Orion nebula may be 24 light years wide.
On Jan. 11, the Hubble Space Telescope was pointed towards the Orion Nebula and the telescope imaged an amazing discovery of 17 brown dwarf companions to red dwarf stars, a brown dwarf pair, a brown dwarf with a planet around it and, finally, a few new giant planets.
There was no specific discoverer of this nebula, but Mayan astronomers and other cultures reported some type of diffuse object.
Galileo is credited with reporting the famous four Trapezium stars back on Feb. 4, 1617.
Famous comet hunter Charles Messier first noted the nebula on March 4, 1769. The object is known as M42 in the Messier catalog of nebulae, galaxies, clusters, etc.
Here is a finder chart for the nebula.
Here is your very own January 2018 sky map to help locate many of the objects in our January skies!