Took this photo late one night a month or two back.
Look closely and you can see things the average person would not be able to see, either because it’s way too dim or less-than-perfect sky conditions. At the top, Messier 35 – a fine example of an open cluster. In the middle of Orion’s left/upheld arm, NGC 2169 is another open cluster, albeit slightly dimmer than M35. Open clusters form from the same dust and gas clouds and slowly head off in their separate directions.
To Orion’s left is a cool multi-itemed treat. There are a few objects with their own names or designations, but they are all related and associated to one another. The two main objects and their common names are the Rosetta Nebula (designated Caldwell 49) and it’s star cluster, the Satellite Cluster.
The complex has the following NGC designations:
- NGC 2237 – Part of the nebulous region (Also used to denote whole nebula)
- NGC 2238 – Part of the nebulous region
- NGC 2239 – Part of the nebulous region (Discovered by John Herschel)
- NGC 2244 – The open cluster within the nebula (Discovered by John Flamsteed in 1690)
- NGC 2246 – Part of the nebulous region
The cluster and nebula lie at a distance of some 5,200 light-years fromEarth (although estimates of the distance vary considerably, down to 4,900 light-years.) and measure roughly 130 light years in diameter. Theradiation from the young stars excite the atoms in the nebula, causing them to emit radiation themselves producing the emission nebula we see. The mass of the nebula is estimated to be around 10,000 solar masses.
Also within the photo are more famous and obvious objects. There is the M42/M43 Great Orion Nebula complex which contains several young stars and proto-planetary disks (disks of gas and dust that will one day form solar systems). Also, above the nebula, yet also located within Orion’s sword is open cluster NGC 1981. Near the bottom end of the photo is the Dog Star, aka Sirius. It is the dog constellation. Below it is a wonderful cluster, Messier 41.
Lastly, the meteor caught during this exposure is in the right place and fit all the criteria for me to consider it a 99% chance of being an Orionid meteor. This would also mean that this meteor came from the famed Halley’s Comet!