FUZZY SPOT, January 2001, Orion (part 1)
Orion is one of the most noticeable star patterns in the sky,
although some people get a little confused with what
constellations are what. The other night after church,
someone in front of me pointed to Orion and said "There's
the big dipper", then pointed to the Pleadies and said
these the little dipper!" Although they weren't quite on the mark, it was great to see someone pointing to the sky, especially in the bright city lights.
In Orion, there is a wealth of deep sky objects. Although it is most famous for it's nebulae, there are many clusters, planetaries, double stars, and even a few galaxies. This month I'm focusing on objects that are shadowed by the Great Orion Nebula.
NGC 1788 (05h06.9 -03 20) At 100X, this nebula was seen with a neighboring bright star more or less to W. Using averted vision makes it grow quite a bit. There is either a star or a much brighter spot in middle. The nebula did not respond to the UHC filter since it is a reflection nebula.
NGC 1973/1977 complex (05h35.4 -04 48) This complex includes NGC 1973, 1975, and 1977 On the S end of the complex, there are stars involved in very bright nebulosity. Thenebulosity follows an arc of 4 stars and extends quite away to the E, but darkens quickly to the S. To the N there is a grouping of 7 stars with the brightest star having quite a bit of nebulosity surrounding it. On N end of the complex is a double star with some nebulosity around it. Between the 2 main sections of nebulosity, it darkens up somewhat. The nebulosity has a very beautiful blue/green glow. Since this is primarily a reflection nebula, the UHC filter doesn't do too much. Overall, it is a very large, pretty bright nebula. Surrounding the brightest stars, it shows some mottling and detail. If the Great Orion Nebula wasn't right next to it, this would be a major show piece.
NGC 1981 (05h35.2 -04 26) Just N of the NGC 1973/1977 complex is this open cluster. It is very large, very bright, very poor, and very loose, with 3 levels of stars and a count of 42 stars. It is visible naked eye.
NGC 1999 (05h36.5 -06 43) Located to the S of the Great Orion Nebula, this small nebula contains a very bright central star with a faint glow around it, perhaps a little mottled. It pretty much looks like a fuzzy star, much like a planetary nebula.
NGC 2022 (05h42.1 +09 05) Moving up near the head of the hunter, this planetary nebula is small, reasonably bright, and possibly annular in the 10" scope. I was unable to verify the annularity at higher power. Using averted vision doesn't make much difference. The nebula is seen as somewhat blue/green in color without the UHC filter.
NGC 2024 (05h42.0 -01 50) One of my favorite objects in the sky, this nebula is known locally as the Tank Tracks, but I prefer the more common and much more poetic name of the Flame Nebula. The main trick in observing this object is keeping Zeta Orion out of the field. In the 10" scope, I could see 4 distinct patches of nebulosity, with a prominent N/S dark lane separating the W patch from the 3 patches on the E. In the bright patches, there is lots of detail and mottling. Again, if this object was not dwarfed by the Great Orion Nebula, it would be a major show piece in the sky.
NGC 2068 (05h46.8
+00 04) M-78 is the third Messier object in Orion and the
only reflection nebula in the Messier catalog. I saw it as
2 bright stars with the pretty bright nebulosity located
primarily to the E of the stars, no color seen. In
addition, there are 2 stars to the N with
one appearing to have nebulosity around it (which is NGC 2071) There is also a faint star to the SE of the nebulosity. The object is barely visible in 10x50 binoculars.
NGC 2169 (06h08.4 +13 57) This open cluster is easily found between naked eye stars Xi and Nu Orion. It is fairly small, very bright, pretty poor, somewhat condensed, and split into 2 sections, with the W section being smaller than the E section. There are 2-3 levels of stars, with a total star count of 18, 11 in the E section and 7 in the W. The stars form the number "37" when rotated in the correct direction. This cluster can easily be viewed from the city, and is a very pretty cluster which can rival many of the Messier Clusters.
NGC 2194 (06h13.8 +12 48) This cluster is SE from NGC 2169 and is very rich, somewhat faint, very tight, and contains 10-15 stars over some haze. To the E of the cluster are two other groupings of stars that looks like clusters.
Herschel 400 Objects
1788, 1980, 1999, 2022, 2024, 2169, 2186, 2194
SAC's 110 Best of the NGC Objects
1788, 1973, 2022, 2024, 2194