< M77 ... Index ... M78 Home ... M79 >

[M 78]

Messier 78

Observations and Descriptions

Discovered by Pierre Méchain at the beginning of 1780.

Messier: M78.
December 17, 1780. 78. 5h 35m 34s (83d 53' 35") -0d 01' 23"
Méchain: (83d 53' 02") -0d 00' 31"
"Cluster of stars, with much nebulosity in Orion & on the same parallel as the star Delta in the belt, which has served to determine its position; the cluster follows [is east of] the star on the hour wire at 3d 41', & the cluster is above [north of] the star by 27'7". M. Méchain had seen this cluster at the beginning of 1780, & reported: "On the left side of Orion [Glyn Jones has, erroneously, the right]; 2 to 3 minutes in diameter, one can see two fairly bright nuclei, surrounded by nebulosity"." (diam. 3')

William Herschel
[1811: PT Vol. 1811, p. 226-336; here p. 278]
3. Of Nebulosities joined to Nebulae.
The nature of diffused nebulosities is such that we often see it joined to real nebulae; for instance of this kind we have the following fourteen objects [including M78] ..

[SP2 p. 659]
1783, Dec. 19 (Sw. 59). Two large [bright] stars, well defined, within a nebulous glare of light resembling that in Orion's sword. There are also three very small [faint] stars just visible in the nebulous part which seem to be component particles thereof. I think there is a faint ray near 1/2 deg long towards the east and another towards the south east less extended, but I am not quite so well assured of the reality of these latter phenomena as I could wish, and would rather ascribe them to some deception. At least I shall suspend my judgement till I have seen it again in very fine weather, tho' the night is far from bad.
1786, Jan. 1 (Sw. 506). Very large milky nebulosity, terminating suddenly on the north side; contains 2 pL. [pretty large (bright)] stars, they are on the north side.
1786, Dec. 22 (Sw. 661). Milky nebulosity containing three stars, iF. [irregularly formed], 5 or 6' long.

John Herschel (1833): h 368.
h 368 = M78.
Sweep 113 (December 20, 1827)
RA 5h 38m 1.3s, NPD 90d 0' 10" (1830.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
Two stars 9=9m; pos 60deg nf; dist 50" in a wispy nebula. See fig. 36.
Two stars equally bright at 9 m; position angle 60 deg north following; distance 50", in a wispy nebula. See figure 36.

Sweep 107 (November 23, 1827)
RA 5h 38m 2.6s, NPD 90d 1' 59" (1830.0)
A v L wisp-shaped neb involving 3 st. It extends 5'; terminating abruptly to n, but extending sf beyond the 3rd *.
A very large wisp-shaped nebula involving 3 stars. It extends 5'; terminating abruptly to the north, but extending south-following [SE] beyond the third star.


[Figure on Plate XII, Fig. 36, No. 368, M. 78, RA 5h 38m 2s, NPD 90d 1']

Smyth: CCXXVI [226]. M78.
CXXXXVI. 78 M. Orionis.
AR 5h 38m 33s, Dec N 0d 00'.7
Mean Epoch of Observation: 1836.79 [Oct 1836]
Two stars in a whispy nebula, just above Orion's left hip; where a ray from Rigel carried between the centre and last stars of the belt, and extended 2 deg farther, pickes it up. A 8 1/2, and B 9 [mag], both white. This object was first fixed by Messier in 1780; and described as "two bright nuclei surrounded by nebulosity." It is a singular mass of matter trending from a well defined northern disc into the sf [south following, SE] quadrant, where it melts away. The nebula lies equatorially between two small stars, which are nearly equidistant from it, in a blankish part of the heavens; and in its most compressed portion is the wide double star. This was beautifully drawn by H. [John Herschel], and is figure 36 in his Catalogue of 1830.

John Herschel, General Catalogue: GC 1267.
GC 1267 = h 368 = M78.
RA 5h 39m 34.1s, NPD 90d 0' 15.7" (1860.0). [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
B; L; wisp-sh; vgmbN; 3 st inv; r. 8 observations by W. & J. Herschel.
Bright; large; wisp-shaped; very gradually much brighter toward a nucleus; 3 stars involved; mottled.
Remark: Figures in P.T. 33 [JH 1833], plate iv, fig. 36; and a woodcut diagram in P.T. 61 [Lord Rosse 1861].

Dreyer: NGC 2068.
NGC 2068 = GC 1267 = h 368; Méchain, M 78.
RA 5h 39m 34s, NPD 90d 0.3' (1860.0). [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
B, L, wisp, gmbN, 3 st inv, r; = M78
Bright, large, wisp, gradually much brighter nucleus, 3 stars involved, mottled.
Remark: Figures in P.T. 33 [JH 1833], plate XII, fig. 36; R. di [a woodcut diagram in P.T. 61, Lord Rosse 1861]; Ld R [Observations of Nebulae and Clusters at Birr Castle, 1848-78 (Transactions Royal Dublin Society, vol. ii. 1880)], plate I; Melb. [Melbourne Observations of Southern Nebulae, Part I. 1886], plate III, fig. 31.

[Descriptions of 762 Nebulae ans Clusters photographed with the Crossley Reflector. Publ. Lick Obs., No. 13, Part I, p. 9-42]
NGC 2068, RA= 5:41.6, Dec=+ 0: 1. [Publ. Lick Obs.] Vol. VIII, Plate 14. A mass of rather irregular, fairly bright, diffuse nebulosity, whose brighter portion is 6'x4', involving two tenth magn. stars. Two fainter patches lie 6' west, apparently separated from the main mass by a wide lane of dark matter; the southerly one of these is [NGC] 2064, and the northern one [NGC] 2067. 0 s.n.
  • Observing Reports for M78 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

    [Home] | [M78 Home] | [SEDS] | [MAA]

    Last Modification: October 21, 2005