The Orion Nebula

Orion NebulaYou are looking at the birth of new stars!

The Orion Nebula is what astronomers call a “stellar nursery”.
New stars are being born in a cozy bed of elemental gases.

How to see Orion from your back yard

Between 7 & 9 pm MST in the months of January and February, look up at the sky in the south – southeast direction.

Look for the brightest star in that part of the sky. That’s Sirius, known as the Dog Star.

From Sirius, look up and to the right until you see 2 sets of 3 stars that line up in a straight line. That’s Orion.

Sirius and Orion

Looking south – southeast.

Orion constellation

Another easy way to recognize Orion is its kite-like shape, as you can see in this image.

The constellation of Orion, though, is not a mere kite.

The Orion constellation is a great hunter/warrior from Greek mythology.

Below you will see the actual form of the constellation Orion. The Orion Nebula is located in Orion’s sword, which hangs from the belt of Orion. Orion’s belt is the three blue diagonal stars seen in the center. Orion’s sword is the set of three vertical stars below the center of the belt. The Orion nebula is the center “star” in the sword.

Orion the hunter


Here is the Orion Nebula up close:

orion nebula up close

Orion Nebula

Below is another nearby nebula nestled in the constellation Orion—the famous Horsehead Nebula, which is located in Orion’s belt.

Horsehead in Orion Nebula