How to find M78 in Orion (the forgotten nebula of the Orion Constellation)

In this article we are going to discuss M78 the forgotten nebula in Orion. M78 brings back a lot of frustrating memories of just starting out in amateur astronomy and trying to find M78 after viewing the glorious Orion's Nebula.

To avoid these issues yourself I have come up with a series of hints and tips to help you find M78.

First when you try and view this nebula, try to do it on a moonless night. M78 is not particularly bright so if you have got a bright sky due to a moon you are probably not going to be able to see this nebula very well. Light pollution also has a big effect on this nebula so a nebula filter can also help to increase contrast.

Click to enlarge the M78 star chart
As you can see from this star chart here M78 is very close to Orion's Belt which most people can make out easily. Its location should not very difficult to find, just head up from Alnitak and you should come across M78.

When I viewed it through my finder scope, I could just make out a faint patch of fuzziness and if I move my 9x50 finder scope on to the target and point it at Alnitak I could just get it on target.

It is roughly 2.5 degrees away from that Alnitak, that is roughly two and a half fingers held out at arm’s length where a finger equals one degree.

Note there are some errors with the number of degrees, between in Alnitak and M78 in the episode below, it is correct in this article. But the episode does contain some great images of M78 and a colour version.

After you have observed M78, you might want to consider observing a nebula that changes overtime, enter the Hubble Variable Nebula, this is not far from M78 and a amazing sight.

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