Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What I love about Messier 42

This is a photo from the Hubble Space Telescope of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42). The Orion Nebula is an example of a stellar nursery where new stars are being born. Observations of the nebula have revealed approximately 700 stars in various stages of formation.

But what I really love so much about the Orion Nebula is how readily available it is to all of us in the northern Hemisphere. So many of the other jaw-dropping photos from the Hubble Space Telescope seem somehow disconnected from us here on the ground. For all we know they could just be mediocre video game simulations.

But not the Orion Nebula, it is different. It seems so REAL because you can see it for yourself through binoculars or even with the naked eye. You just need to know where to look (For the more astrologically inclined see this fictitious version then lose the superstition - please).

The Orion Nebula appears as a faint smudge of light around the middle star of Orion’s sword. It's 1,500 light-years away but here's the thing... there is nothing between you and it – NOTHING! With a long enough tongue, you could reach out and lick it. It is real and visible proof that stellar alchemy happens. That is where you came from and it's proof positive that science kicks-ass!

For a freaking fabulous tour of the Orion Nebula click here…and here is a cool visualization too.

Now get out there and taste that hydrogen!

Labels: , , ,

Technorati blog directory