If you aren’t already familiar with the pictures from Sean Parker, then we’re going to put you right.
This is a image of the Orion Nebula taken by Sean. This particular image, cleverly named “The Great Orion Nebula” was recently published in the Digital SLR Photography Magazine, the largest photography magazine in the U.K. Because of the false coloring used in many pictures produced by telescopes like Hubble, most of you have probably never seen a nebula such as Orion in ‘true color’ (that is, as the nebula would appear in visible light). Well, this is pretty close. Of course, Sean used exposure times to his advantage to magnify the magnificence of Orion, but this is the ‘real deal’.
The Orion Nebula is located about 1300 light-years from Earth and is one of the brightest nebulae in the night sky. It is visible to the naked eye (even in areas with minor light pollution) and can be seen just under Orion’s Belt as the second ‘star’ in Orion’s sword. If you have really good eye sight, the ‘star’ will appear fuzzy, but, with the aid of binoculars or a telescope, Orion’s nebula appearance becomes clear.
The Orion Nebula is a stellar nursery and offers us an unprecedented view of the process that drives the formation of these young stars, both because it is so close and because its hot, young stars have blown away much of the gas that normally obscures them from view.