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To the naked eye, Orion's 'sword' appears to be three stars in a line. Look carefully and the central star appears a bit fuzzy, this is M42, the Orion Nebula. It is a huge cloud of gas brightly lit by a concentration of bright, blue, young stars. Right in the heart of the nebula are four quite distinct stars known as the 'trapezium'. In fact, the nebula is the closest area of intense star formation to the Earth. Just above the Orion Nebula is a smaller nebula M43, looking like a bird's head to M42's 'wings'.


M42, the Orion Nebula imaged with narrowband filters.