The Binocular Sky


M78 (NGC 2068)

Constellation: Ori
Object Type: Reflection Nebula
RA:  5h 46m 45s
Dec:  +0° 4' 9"
Magnitude: 8.0
Recommended minimum aperture: 50mm

Charts for 70mm Binocular (4° aperture circle).   Click on a chart to print it.


M78 is 2½° to the NNE of Alnitak (ζ Ori), and can therefore be found in the same field as the star.

What You Should See:

Under very transparent skies, I have seen the 8th magnitude M78 with 42mm binoculars, but I find that 70mm is required to bring out the abruptness in the way the northern edge darkens (dust lane?). This gives the southern region the appearance of a comet tail extending away from a northern coma, serving as a reminder of why Charles Messier drew up his catalogue of objects that should not be confused with comets.

Also take time with the two 10th magnitude stars that lie just to the north: the closer of the two has associated nebulosity (NGC 2071), which I have seen with 100mm and averted vision under UK skies, but not 70mm, although I see no reason why it should not be visible with the smaller binocular under very dark skies.