The Great Nebula in Orion also known as M42 is in the middle of Orion’s sword. It is roughly 1500 light years away and close to 30 light years across. The red color is primarily ionized hydrogen gas and the blue is either helium gas or dust. The four bright stars in the core are lighting up the cloud with intense radiation that cause the gas around them to ionize and glow. The four stars are type O stars and measure about 40,000 to 60,000 degrees Kelvin. These stars typically live about 100 million years as opposed to our suns 10 billion year life span.
Butte astro-photographer Jim Egger took this photo recently of the Comet Lovejoy just below the belt of the constellation of Hercules. Discovered in 2011 by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, Comet Lovejoy will orbit the sun, but it’s not on a path to be destroyed by it. Egger said the comet appears through binoculars as a hazy greenish patch that changes its position daily. The comet was last visible at Christmas time in 2011.
The June 5th Venus Transit. Captured using an 8" refractor telescope with a solar filter.
Butte astronomer Jim Egger used a projection technique to a photograph of the Venus June 5 crossing in front of the sun. Venus won’t pass between Earth and the sun again until 2117. Alaska and Hawaii were the only states where the whole transit could be viewed. Here’s how Egger did it:“I projected the image on a sheet of Mylar stretched over the end of a funnel with a 12 mm eyepiece in the small end used for projection,” he said. “The sun is the light colored ball on the Mylar with Venus being the obviously larger round dark object as opposed to the smaller dots of dark points, which are sunspots. The bright light seen in the image of the projected sun is from the scattered light due to the eyepiece at the bottom of the funnel. It is not part of the image of the sun. It is like looking at the projector bulb in a dark movie theater.”For more information, visit nasa.gov.