Reflection Nebula M78
November 27, 2003
An eerie blue glow and ominous columns of dark dust highlight M78, one of the brightest reflection nebula in the sky. M78 is visible with a small telescope toward the constellation of Orion. The dust not only absorbs light, but also reflects the light of several bright blue stars that formed recently in the nebula. The same type of scattering that colors the daytime sky further enhances the blue color. M78 is about five light-years across. M78 appears above only as it was 1600 years ago, however, because that is how long it takes light to go from there to here. M78 belongs to the larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex that contains the Great Nebula in Orion and the Horsehead Nebula.
Topics: Messier 78, Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, Nebulae, Nebulae in fiction, Reflection nebula, Horsehead Nebula, Nebula, Orion complex, Orion Nebula