January 21, 2014
The 42nd object listed in 18th century astronomer Charles Messier's famous list of fuzzy things is the Great Nebula in Orion. M42 is an immense interstellar cloud of hot hydrogen gas, lit up by the young stars at its heart. Don't expect to see the nebula's brilliant colors with your unaided eye — our color receptors don't work very well at night.
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The three bright stars in a neat little row stand out among the other stars like a neon sign. Some call them the Three Marys, others, the Three Wise Men, but officially, these three stars mark the Belt of Orion, the Hunter.