Behold: Orion. But what are those streaks of light crossing through it? To wit:
They are reflections of sunlight from numerous Earth-orbiting satellites. Appearing by eye as a series of successive points floating across a twilight sky, the increasing number of communications satellites, including SpaceX Starlink satellites, are causing concern among many astronomers. On the positive side, Starlink and similar constellations make the post-sunset sky more dynamic, satellite-based global communications faster, and help provide digital services to currently underserved rural areas. On the negative side, though, these low Earth-orbit satellites make some deep astronomical imaging programs more difficult, in particular observing programs that need images taken just after sunset and just before dawn. Planned future satellite arrays that function in higher orbits may impact investigations of the deep universe planned for large ground-based telescopes at any time during the night. The streaks across Orion are not from Starlink but rather satellites in high geosynchronous orbit. The featured picture, taken in 2019 December, is a digital combination of over 65 3-minute exposures, with some images taken to highlight the background Orion Nebula, while others to feature the passing satellites.
(Image: Amir H. Abolfath)
Behold (in opposite corners of the stunning mosaic): the Horsehead nebula and the Orion nebula, 1500 light years away. To wit:
The familiar Horsehead nebula appears as a dark cloud, a small silhouette notched against the long red glow at the lower left. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion’s belt and is seen as the brightest star to the left of the Horsehead. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, with clouds of bright emission and dramatic dark dust lanes. The magnificent emission region, the Orion Nebula (aka M42), lies at the upper right. Immediately to its left is a prominent reflection nebula sometimes called the Running Man. Pervasive tendrils of glowing hydrogen gas are easily traced throughout the region.
(Image: Roberto Colombari & Federico Pelliccia)
A unique view of the normally familiar Orion constellation captured early last year from mountains in San Juan, Argentina where a zoomed long exposure has been used to enhance distant nebulae normally invisible to the unaided human eye. To wit:
…once you become oriented, you can see Orion’s three belt stars lined up vertically near the image center, and even locate the familiar Orion Nebula on the upper left. Famous faint features that are also visible include the dark Horsehead Nebula indentation near the image center, and the dusty Flame Nebula just to its right. Part of the Orion-encircling Barnard’s Loop can also be found on the far right. The image combines multiple sky-tracking shots of the background in different colours with a single static foreground exposure taken at twilight — all captured with the same camera and from the same location.
(Image: Nicolas Tabbush)
What’s behind Betelgeuse? Quite a few things as it happens. To wit:
One of the brighter and more unusual stars in the sky, the red supergiant star Betelgeuse can be found in the direction of famous constellation Orion. Betelgeuse, however, is actually well in front of many of the constellation’s other bright stars, and also in front of the greater Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. Numerically, light takes about 700 years to reach us from Betelgeuse, but about 1,300 years to reach us from the Orion Nebula and its surrounding dust and gas. All but the largest telescopes see Betelgeuse as only a point of light, but a point so bright that the inherent blurriness created by the telescope and Earth’s atmosphere make it seem extended. In the featured long-exposure image, thousands of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy can be seen in the background behind Betelgeuse, as well as dark dust from the Orion Molecular Cloud, and some red-glowing emission from hydrogen gas on the outskirts of the more distant Lambda Orionis Ring. Betelgeuse has recovered from appearing unusually dim over the past six months, but is still expected to explode in a spectacular supernova sometime in the next (about) 100,000 years.
(Image: Adam Block, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona)
So much more than a belt of three stars, the constellation of Orion is rich in nebulae, as seen in this painstaking composite of extremely long exposures captured on clear nights in 2013 and 2014. To wit:
After 212 hours of camera time and an additional year of processing, the featured 1400-exposure collage spanning over 40 times the angular diameter of the Moon emerged. Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard’s Loop, the bright red circular filament arcing down from the middle. The Rosette Nebula is not the giant red nebula near the top of the image — that is a larger but lesser known nebula known as Lambda Orionis. The Rosette Nebula is visible, though: it is the red and white nebula on the upper left. The bright orange star just above the frame center is Betelgeuse, while the bright blue star on the lower right is Rigel. Other famous nebulas visible include the Witch Head Nebula, the Flame Nebula, the Fox Fur Nebula, and, if you know just where to look, the comparatively small Horsehead Nebula. About those famous three stars that cross the belt of Orion the Hunter — in this busy frame they can be hard to locate, but a discerning eye will find them just below and to the right of the image centre.
(Image: Stanislav Volskiy, Annotation: Judy Schmidt)
Behold: one of the most familiar sights in the night sky: Orion – seen here above the Central Bohemian Highlands of the Czech Republic – the constellation has been known to stargazers for over 30,000 years. To wit:
Orion has looked pretty much the same during this time and should continue to look the same for many thousands of years into the future. Prominent Orion is high in the sky at sunset this time of year, a recurring sign of (modern) winter in Earth‘s northern hemisphere and summer in the south. The featured picture is a composite of over thirty images taken from the same location and during the same night last month. Below and slightly to the left of Orion’s three-star belt is the Orion Nebula, while four of the bright stars surrounding the belt are, clockwise, Sirius (far left, blue), Betelgeuse (top, orange, unusually faint), Aldebaran (far right), and Rigel (below). As future weeks progress, Orion will set increasingly earlier.
(Image: Vojtěch Bauer)
Behold: a long exposure (taken over several nights earlier this year) of the constellation of Orion – not just three stars in a row, rather, a direction in space rich with impressive nebulae. To wit:
Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard’s Loop, the bright red orange arc just to the right of the image center. The Rosette Nebula is not the giant orange nebula just to the left of the image center — that is larger but lesser known nebula known as the Meissa Ring. The Rosette Nebula is visible, though: it is the bright orange, blue and white nebula near the image bottom. The bright orange star just left of the frame center is Betelgeuse, while the bright blue star on the upper right is Rigel. About those famous three stars that cross the belt of Orion the Hunter — in this busy frame they can be hard to locate, but a discerning eye will find them just to the right of the image center.
(Image: Andrew Klinger)