Thursday, November 23, 2023

"The Great Turkey Nebula"

"The Great Turkey Nebula"

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! 

"It is not Thanksgiving without turkey!" 

Although there is no official deep-sky object bearing this bird’s name, observers like to imagine the famous Orion Nebula (M42) as the Great Turkey Nebula. Surprisingly reminiscent of The Great Nebula in Orion, The Great Turkey Nebula spans this creative field of view. Of course, if it were the Orion Nebula it would be our closest large stellar nursery, found at the edge of a large molecular cloud a mere 1,500 light-years away. 

The Orion Nebula, also known as M42, is visible to the eye as the middle "star" in the sword of Orion the Hunter, a constellation in planet Earth's skies. Stellar winds from clusters of newborn stars scattered throughout the Orion Nebula sculpt its ridges and cavities seen in familiar in telescopic images. Much larger than any bird you might be cooking, this Great Turkey Nebula was imagined to be similar in size to the Orion Nebula, about 13 light-years across. 

The Orion Nebula can be easily seen with binoculars or any telescope as a gauzy, bright glow surrounding several tightly packed bright stars—these are the Trapezium Cluster, birthed from the clouds of gas and dust that make up the nebula. These massive suns are now starting to sculpt the clouds with the intense winds they blast out.

Take some time to study the nebula and its shape. Does it look like a Turkey to you? The “head” is a hooked cloud along the northern edge, with the large, round body and fanned-out tail extending to the south. If you cannot see enough detail at the eyepiece, consider taking a photograph. This will gather more light than your eye is capable of bringing in to better highlight the clouds’ shape more sharply. If you do not see the Great Turkey Nebula, M42 is still one of the very best deep-sky sights you can catch to top off an excellent evening of family and feasting.

Imagination Credit & Copyright: Eric Coles

Eric's website:

Caption Credit: NASA/

Release Date: Nov. 26, 2020

#NASA #Astronomy #Space #Science #Stars #StarFormation #Nebulae #GreatTurkeyNebula #OrionNebula #Messier42 #M42 #Orion #Constellation #MilkyWayGalaxy #Cosmos #Universe #Telescope #Astrophotography #Imagination #Art #Humor #STEM #Education #APoD

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