Friday 11 November 2016

Taking a spaceship deep into the Orion Nebula

I've already posted about the bewildering Orion Nebula (M42) here and here. So far we've remained at a respectable distance. Now buckle up because I'm going to take you on a wild roller coaster ride deep into the heart of the nebula. 

It's a beautiful night with a highly transparent mountain sky. My 18" binoscope's set. Magnification's 507x. Put your eyes against the widefield lenses. You feel as if you're falling into them... ever deeper... breakneck speed... you're dazzled... all around you are bluish clouds of hot gas... filaments that are reaching out at you... an amazing sensation of depth overwhelms you... stars lie embedded everywhere in the nebula and shine like street lights through the mist... so many bright little spots... so many newborn suns, nurtured by the giant cloud until they're old enough to be expelled and start their journey through space... every single one of them will probably form planets, dreams of the future in this currently violent and deadly corner of our universe... the radiation from all of these young and hot stars is scorching... hydrogen and oxygen reach high states of excitation and glow in the absolute dark... they glow so much that at a distance of 1.300 lightyears this cloud can still be seen quite easily with the naked eye... lanes of dark dust are drifting by, absorbing light as in an autumn sunset...

And there are you, a tiny little person, an insignificant insect in the middle of this nebula that's 24 lightyears across. You could send a text message from one end to the other and you'd only get a reply 48 years later! Still, some people believe that they're the most important part of this universe. Astronomy would be the best cure for them.

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