…continuedObserving Nebulae Season by Season
The Beauty of Orion
The Orion Nebula (M42) has inspired more adjectives than any other deep-sky object. None, however, do real justice to this great mass of swirling, pale green, chaotic gas. Even “overpowering” is a most inadequate word when the nebula is seen in a really dark sky. Intertwined with the Sword on the Hunter’s Belt, M42 requires no charts or setting circles (see the photograph on the previous page). There’s no need for a finder, either, since you can simply sight along the edge of the telescope tube to bring the nebula into view. (For more on the Orion Nebula see the article "A Pair of Nice Nebulae.")
But recognizing the dark blotch B33 is another matter. Scattered light from 2nd-magnitude Zeta foils many attempts to find the Horsehead, since the two are separated by only ½°. Another reason that many searches fail is that observers are looking for the wrong-sized object. When I have seen it with telescopes between 10 and 16 inches in aperture, my first reaction has always been how tiny it is! Knowing just where to look for it is half the battle. The Horsehead is only 5' across. Amateurs accustomed to seeing it on large-scale photographs end up looking for an object that is much too big.