Skywatch: Look for the Orion Nebula this week

Skywatch: Look for the Orion Nebula this week

A dark sky will make stargazing that much easier this week when skies cooperate. The new moon arrived late last week which means that you can go “young moon hunting” Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. If you look in the west about an hour after sunset you’ll see a waxing crescent moon. It’ll get a little higher each night.

A few weeks ago I talked about the constellation of Orion. That’s the one that’s famous for the three stars that make up Orion’s Belt. If you look below the belt near the “tip of Orion’s sword” you can find the Orion Nebula.

Courtesy: NASA

Also known as M42 (or Messier 42, after astronomer Charles Messier) it’s a nursery for stars.

Courtesy: Andrew Ainslie Common

Because the first image of M42 is from NASA you won’t get that good of a look at the Orion Nebula. The above image is more in line with what I see from my backyard telescope. I showed it to my two oldest daughters a few weeks ago and they thought it was “awesome”.

If you’re out later in the week look for the moon and the “Red Planet”. Mars and the moon will be in close proximity in the evenings. Look in the southwestern sky around nightfall to find the pair. Happy hunting!