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All about the Great Nebula in Orion

Dob DSO Observing Report Outreach Visual Binoculars
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#1 SNH

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 08:32 PM

In the December issue of the Reflector (the Astronomical League's quarterly magazine that goes out to all 20,000+ members), I wrote my first article for them. And, much to my surprise, I decided to write about Messier 42, arguably one of the most well-known objects in the entire sky.

 

Now, normally, I don't like to write about objects that are too well known since I enjoy presenting little known facts...and I figured there weren't any left when it came to M42. But after painstakingly researching what its brightest protoplanetary disk ("proplyd", for short) might be, I was able to see said proplyd with my 16-inch. All that research and the plethora of "rabbit holes" that came along with it made me realize that there's actually a lot of confusion in the amateur astronomy community as to who discovered what...and when.

 

So, what I'd like you to do is read the article and tell me if you learned anything new. For me, the three biggest things were that there is a proplyd visible to us amateurs, William Herschel was the first to use the name "Trapezium", and that it's very likely the nebula hadn't opened up enough (and thus wasn't bright enough) to be naked-eye back 100,000 years ago!

 

The current issue can be downloaded (for free) from here: https://www.astroleague.org/reflector/

 

Scott


Edited by SNH, 30 November 2023 - 10:10 PM.

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#2 Alex Swartzinski

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 09:25 PM

Thanks for consistently sharing these excellent articles Scott! 

 

I'd briefly looked into observing protoplanetary disks last winter, but most of the Deep Sky Forum threads made me feel it was out of reach for scopes smaller than 25 inches. 

 

Hearing about your sighting made my night! 

 

Regarding things I've learned:

 

Before this article, I had never done a deep look into M42's past. Oddly, I remembered that Herschel used the term trapezium, but I didn't realize that he was the first to describe it that way. 

 

I was ignorant about the timeline of star observation within the cluster. It was interesting to see how long of a process this discovery path was. 

 

I've also never spend any time trying to split naked eye doubles in this area. When the telescope is right there, I've never thought to pull back and try for sword doubles without optical aid. It sounds like a fun challenge, but my seeing will make these more difficult.

 

Thanks for giving me knowledge and new hope! 


Edited by Alex Swartzinski, 30 November 2023 - 09:33 PM.

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#3 yuzameh

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Posted 01 December 2023 - 12:32 AM

In the December issue of the Reflector (the Astronomical League's quarterly magazine that goes out to all 20,000+ members), I wrote my first article for them. And, much to my surprise, I decided to write about Messier 42, arguably one of the most well-known objects in the entire sky.

 

Now, normally, I don't like to write about objects that are too well known since I enjoy presenting little known facts...and I figured there weren't any left when it came to M42. But after painstakingly researching what its brightest protoplanetary disk ("proplyd", for short) might be, I was able to see said proplyd with my 16-inch. All that research and the plethora of "rabbit holes" that came along with it made me realize that there's actually a lot of confusion in the amateur astronomy community as to who discovered what...and when.

 

So, what I'd like you to do is read the article and tell me if you learned anything new. For me, the three biggest things were that there is a proplyd visible to us amateurs, William Herschel was the first to use the name "Trapezium", and that it's very likely the nebula hadn't opened up enough (and thus wasn't bright enough) to be naked-eye back 100,000 years ago!

 

The current issue can be downloaded (for free) from here: https://www.astroleague.org/reflector/

 

Scott

Remember there are few original sources used, and many books don't reference.

 

In fact you only need one 'authoritative' book to get it wrong (probably becaused they copied it out of another older source, not plagiarism, part of research) for many subsequent books to end up using that source.

 

The middle of the sword handle looks fuzzy on a good nigh even under LED ambient light pollution, so it first being 'seen' goes back to prehistory, no doubt, though I've never heard of the 'dagger' having any nicknames in the past that sound fuzzy, nor myths etc.



#4 Keith Rivich

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Posted 01 December 2023 - 10:50 PM

In the December issue of the Reflector (the Astronomical League's quarterly magazine that goes out to all 20,000+ members), I wrote my first article for them. And, much to my surprise, I decided to write about Messier 42, arguably one of the most well-known objects in the entire sky.

 

Now, normally, I don't like to write about objects that are too well known since I enjoy presenting little known facts...and I figured there weren't any left when it came to M42. But after painstakingly researching what its brightest protoplanetary disk ("proplyd", for short) might be, I was able to see said proplyd with my 16-inch. All that research and the plethora of "rabbit holes" that came along with it made me realize that there's actually a lot of confusion in the amateur astronomy community as to who discovered what...and when.

 

So, what I'd like you to do is read the article and tell me if you learned anything new. For me, the three biggest things were that there is a proplyd visible to us amateurs, William Herschel was the first to use the name "Trapezium", and that it's very likely the nebula hadn't opened up enough (and thus wasn't bright enough) to be naked-eye back 100,000 years ago!

 

The current issue can be downloaded (for free) from here: https://www.astroleague.org/reflector/

 

Scott

Here is a nice thread on M42 proplyds posted on CN back in 2019:

https://www.cloudyni...hort-exposures/

 

We had the 82" in Oct of 2019 and we got a nice look at the Trapezium area in in very good conditions. We were pretty ragged out by the time M42 was high enough to get in the scope but we did manage to bag, I believe, 4 of the proplyds. Its been a while but I think we used an article by Dave Tosteson to identify each of the globules. 


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#5 PeterSurma

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Posted 02 December 2023 - 08:52 AM

Thanks for making those visible proplyds known to us here. I'll sure give it a try with my 20" once weather turns good...



#6 Keith Rivich

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Posted 02 December 2023 - 11:22 AM

Thanks for making those visible proplyds known to us here. I'll sure give it a try with my 20" once weather turns good...

I talked to one of the other folks on the 82" trip that kept actual notes. We saw the proplyds as labeled in the image I linked to above:

 

171-340     This pair was the easiest. IIRC I saw these in the 25" a few months later at our dark site. I'll re-observe this if we ever get skies again...

177-341

197-427

206-446

 

Time was 4am.

M42 was ~40° up. 

Seeing excellent

Transparency excellent

Eyepiece: 16mm Nagler (1783x)


Edited by Keith Rivich, 02 December 2023 - 06:11 PM.

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#7 PeterSurma

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Posted 02 December 2023 - 05:59 PM

Keith,

 

thanks for iterating on this and thanks for your link above, those charts/pictures will help, of course. I don't think it'll be feasible for me to see the fainter ones, with 20", and my skies are not that excellent normally, around 21.5...21.6 mpsas under good conditions (good seeing, and transparency needed as well). But even observing just one of these objects indeed would be very thrilling... Of course I saw images of proplyds before, but never checked scale, magnitudes or position in M42 in order to check for visual obs feasibility...

 

Thanks for this thread and topic !


Edited by PeterSurma, 02 December 2023 - 06:03 PM.


#8 SNH

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Posted 03 December 2023 - 09:38 PM

I talked to one of the other folks on the 82" trip that kept actual notes. We saw the proplyds as labeled in the image I linked to above:

 

171-340     This pair was the easiest. IIRC I saw these in the 25" a few months later at our dark site. I'll re-observe this if we ever get skies again...

177-341

197-427

206-446

 

Time was 4am.

M42 was ~40° up. 

Seeing excellent

Transparency excellent

Eyepiece: 16mm Nagler (1783x)

Well, I'm glad someone took notes! I looked over your list a bit and it's interesting. I'd have to say that the light you saw from the "pair" 170-337 and 171-340 is probably mostly the YSO at their hearts. But it's great to hear that you saw 177-341!

 

Scott H.



#9 Machinetools1

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Posted 04 December 2023 - 03:52 AM

Wow.....I only wish I would have picket this hobby up a little sooner, I think the sponge in my head has left the building. I could not have ever understood the depth of how deep space was until I started on these forums. The deep sky amazes me. Looks like I just entered another rabbit hole.


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#10 Joel Erkia

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Posted 21 December 2023 - 05:44 PM

If you were asked “what's the best car?”, how could you give a recommendation without knowing whether you plan to use it to take the kids to school, drive on dirt tracks, or race?

Ultimately, the best telescope for you is the one you use.
I think the Dobsonian is the ideal telescope for visual astronomy (which is where I recommend starting) but it may not be right for you.




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