2013 01 06 – M42/M43 (Orion Nebula)

The Orion Nebula is a sight to behold in the winter skies. I’ve attempted sketching M42/M43 a few times but have yet to do it justice. Nebulae can be very tricky to accurately render, even capturing their essence can prove quite the challenge. In 2005, I diligently worked on my Orion Nebula sketch for what seemed like an eternity behind the eyepiece only to discover later that it resembled a rooster! My latest attempt was at a public star party at the Eagle Eye Observatory at Canyon of the Eagles. Typically I sketch on Rite in the Rain paper for those high humidity nights. Unprepared as I was to sketch at this star party, the paper was ordinary printer paper with the Observing Form template on it and became very soggy. Needless to say, between the lack of concentration from sketching at a public outreach event and the high humidity, the sketch suffered. Even so, all sketches are good sketches in my book, if for no other reason than spending time studying the object while it’s being drawn.

20130106 m42

Eyepiece sketch on white paper with a General Observing Form template, black felt-tipped pen, #2 pencil, blending stump loaded with charcoal, 0.5mm mechanical pencil.

M42/M43 (Orion Nebula), 1600 ly distance

M42 (NGC 1976, LBN 974, Sh2-281, h 360, GC 1179)
Cluster, reflection and emission nebula in the constellation Orion, 05h 35m 17.2s, -05º 23′ 27″, 90’x60′, 5.0vm
Discovered in 1610 by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc

M43 (NGC 1982, H 3.1, GC 1185, CED 55G)
Reflection and emission nebula in the constellation Orion, 05h 35m 31.3s, -05º 16′ 03″, 20’x15′, 7.0vm
Discovered in 1731 by Jean-Jacques Dortous de Mairan

Orion Nebula sketch in 2005

Orion Nebula sketch in 2005

The Orion Nebula can be seen naked eye under moderately-dark skies as a faint glow around Theta Orionis in Orion’s sword. It sports a beautiful trapezium multiple star, Theta-one Orionis, with the aid of a telescope and is an amazing sight at any magnification and aperture. My sketch above shows only the upper, higher-contrast portion. There is a fainter area that, together with the upper portion, forms a loop. Next time, I’ll need to use a 34mm eyepiece to fit its entirety in one field of view at around 40x magnification. An OIII or UHC filter will add to the contrast and an h-beta filter has been stated to show more contrast in the western loop, although the rest of the nebula may diminish with its use.


~ by Erika Rix on January 13, 2013.

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