Trapezium, in the Orion Nebula

TargetTypeRight AscensionDeclinationConstellationMagnitudeSize
TrapeziumStar system05h 36m 15s-05° 22′ 41″Orion+5.120 arcseconds

Recently, I was testing out a new zoom eyepiece. I use it on last months challenge number two, the double stars of Orion. Whilst in Orion, I can never resist the temptation to look at the Orion nebula and, since I had the new eyepiece to test, I used it on the trapezium within the nebula.

This is a great seeing challenge for most sizes a telescope because the four brightest stars make up the view can be seen with relatively low magnification but higher magnification, good optics and patience for clarity of seeing will show more stars.

The images below (from SkySafari 6) show where to locate the trapezium. Each is clickable for full screen and printing.

Step 1 – Find Orion, which is bold and bright in the evening over the southwest horizon

Color map
Inverse monochrome map

Step 2 – Focus on the Orion Nebula, Around the star Theta2, in the Sword of Orion

This is the middle star of the three visible to the naked eye under the Orion’s belt. More detail is shown on the color map, below.

Color, with location guides
Inverse monochrome

Step 3 – Find the four brightest stars of the trapezium

See the star Theta2 on the images below and note the four stars forming the Trapezium (circled on color image).

Inverse monochrome

Step 4 – How Faint can you go?

With a big scope, you might just see the six brightest stars, labelled in the image below and all brighter than magnitude 12.

A is magnitude 5.1 (variable), B – 6.6. (variable), C – 7.9, D – 6.3, E – 11.1, F – 11.5

When I looked, I couldn’t get to E and F – how about you?