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Entire DOCdb database of 18,816 objects.



NGC 2068 (3,942 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Messier 78

NGC 2068, DG 80, VDB 59, Bernes 102C, Ced 55u, Magakian 151, Messier 78, h 368, GC 1267

RA: 05h 46m 45s
Dec: +00° 03′ 43″

Con: Orion
Ch: MSA:253, U2:226, SA:11

Ref: [2003A&A...399..141M]

(reference key)

Type: reflection nebula

Mag: B=?, V=?

Size: ?
PA: ?

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Sketches  (1)

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Photos  (3)

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History and Accurate Positions for the NGC/IC Objects (Corwin 2004)

NGC 2068 = M 78. See NGC 2067.

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

In the Appendix to the 1912 'Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel' this object is described as "1783, December 19. Two large stars, well defined, within a nebulous glare of light resembling that in Orion's sword. There are also three very small stars just visible in the nebulous part which seem to be component particles thereof. I think there is a faint ray near 0.5 degrees 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, January 1. Very large milky nebulosity, terminating suddenly on the north side; contains 2 pL stars, they are on the north side. 1786, December 22. Milky nebulosity containing three stars, iF, 5 or 6' long."

Ellery, R.L.J. (1885) Melbourne Observations

Recorded in "Observations of the Southern Nebulae made with the Great Melbourne Telescope".

See the discussion of Lithograph M.3.31 for the details.

Birr Castle/Lord Rosse (1852)

The Earl of Rosse, observing with a 72-inch f/8.8 speculum telescope, recorded it 8 times. He noted "Feb 9, 1852. Spiral arrangement sufficiently seen to confirm former observations. Jan 9, 1856. Appears in finder a bright oval nebula, with north and north-following edges brightest and best defined, and S.p. edge fading away gradually; with higher power there is seen a decided darkness at and between the stars, and I can confirm previous observations as to the curve formed by the brightest part of nebulosity. Dec 26, 1856. Nebulosity easily traced as in preceding sketch."

Published comments

Pickering, E.C. (1890)

Detection of new nebulae by photography. Annals Harv Coll Obs., 18, 113. Bibcode: [1890AnHar..18..113P]

Photographs taken with the Bache telescope, a photographic 8-inch f/5.5 doublet, covering 10 degrees square, were examined by Mrs M Fleming with a magnifying glass.

Table 1: List of nebulae (p115)

No. 25 "Dreyer 2068, or Messier 78, is identical with this object. Dreyer 2064 preceding 0.4m south 5' and Dreyer 2067 preceding 0.2m north 2', are shown in Plates 2312, 2325, 2335 and perhaps in 2423. They appear to be conneted by a nebulous band passing on the preceding side of Dreyer 2068, which does not include it."

Doig, P. (1925)

Journal BAA, 35, Sep, p316.

A mass of fairly bright irreg. diffuse nebulosity, brighter part 6'x4', with two involved 10th mag stars. Two fainter patches 6' west (NGC 2064 and 2067) are apparently separted form the main mass by a lane of dark matter.

Cederblad, S. (1946) [VII/231]

Ced 55u (NGC 2068)

Position (1900): RA 5 41.6, Dec + 0 1

Star: 0 1177 (Mp=10.8, V=10.3, SpT=B8)

Spectrum of nebula: continuous spectrum (observed)

Classification: Neb associated with mainly one star (which may be multiple) - star surrounded by a neb envelope with conspicuous structure (eg. IC 5146)

Size: 8'x6'

Notes: "Ced 55 u = NGC 2068 = GC 1267 = h 368 = M 78. Disc. Mechain 1780 (262). FA 98. WP 166. (30, 114, 173, 191, 196, 216, 238, 252, 354, 366, 409 P1 14, 486, 578, 604, 630 Pl 34, 631, 698, 715, 791). Ced 55: The Orion region. History and bibliography: (118, 119, 186, 188, 191, 276, 352). The nebulous groundwork and the exterior nebulosities: (20, 21, 26, 53, 58, 78, 142, 143, 186, 191, 206, 207, 278, 279, 281, 282, 289, 305, 312, 438, 480, 519, 540. 541, 593, 594, 595, 620, 625, 628, 630 Pl 34, 663, 675, 715, 726 No 41, 769, 782, 802, 818). R. It is shown on several photographs, e.g. (630) Pl 34, that the whole region of the constellation Orion is filled up by vast masses of nebulosity. As is well known, there are several condensation which seem to stand out from the general background, and which have been separately discovered and studied. Such subnebulae, will be individually discussed below. Taken as a whole, No 55 of the catalogue should be classified as C. 2 in addition to the separate classes of the subnebulae."

Dorschner & Gürtler (1963)

Untersuchungen uber Reflexionsnebel.

DG 80

= NGC 2068, Ced 55u

Pos (1950.0) 05:44.2, +0:03

Size: 11x9 (blue), 9x7 (red).

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a diffuse nebula.

Bernes, C. (1977)

Bernes, C. (1977) A catalogue of bright nebulosities in opaque dust clouds.

Bernes 102 = NGC 2064 / NGC 2067 / NGC 2068, M78

Magakian T. Yu. (2003)

= DG 80, [RK68] 42, VdB 59, Bernes 102, N2068, GN 05.44.2, Ced 55u

Class: C (reflection neb)

Modern observations

Neilson, David (1992)

Neilson (Oakland, California, USA), writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "Unspectacular giant wisp enclosing two stars (8-inch)."

Steve Coe

Coe (Glendale, Arizona, USA) observing with a 17.5-inch f/4.5, writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "Bright, large and fan-shaped. There are three stars involved and it is bright enough to be seen in my 8x50 finder. This nebulosity looks very much like an active comet, with a spread out glow and light and dark shading."

Bushnall, Darren (1993)

Bushnall (Hartlepool, Cleveland) observing with a 8.5-inch f/6, writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 11, January 1993: "Visible as a small oval patch at x78. The south side fans out like a comet; the north side is brighter. Two stars seen in the nebula (ADS 4374)."

Tom Lorenzin

Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "8M; 8'x 6' extent; comet-shaped with apex directed N-ward; two equal magnitude stars embedded; DIF NEB N2071 (10M star with faint nebulosity; 4'x 3' extent) is 15' to NNE."

Ware, Donald J

"This is another fine area of nebulosity. It is about 6' in diameter, and surrounds two magnitude 10 stars. It is somewhat fan shaped, and appears comet-like at low powers. NGC's 2064, 2067, and 2071 lie in very close proximity to M-78, and are all nebulous regions as well."

Steve Coe

Coe, using a 13" f/5.6, notes: " Bright, large and fan-shaped. There are three stars involved in this nebula using the 17.5" f/4.5 at 100X. It is bright enough to be seen in a 8X50 finderscope. This nebulosity looks very much like an active comet, with a triangular glow that involves light and dark shading. I'll bet this guy has been turned into Brian Marsden as a false comet all too often."

Danie L. Cronje


Danie Cronje, observing with 10x50 binoculars, calls it "faint, small, round, almost stellar, brighter centre."

Paul Alsing

82-inch at McDonald - Observing Report

[amastro] posting, Sat Nov 25, 2006

82" telescope, McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, USA

f/13.7, 35mm Televue Panoptic (5' fov, 812x)

M 78 was nice and bright, but was deemed to be a disappointment because that was all there was, nebulosity, there were no details at all to be seen.

Contemporary observations

Richard Ford

2009 March 21


12-inch Dobsonian f5 (EP: 20mm UW, 7mm UW)

Conditions: The fainter parts of the Milky Way are barely visible. Haziness only visible on the horizon. Atmosphere stable with little interference. Limiting Magnitude: 4.9.

Messier 78 is a reflection nebula. It is very bright and irregularly shaped, and is easy to observe. It is of uniform brightness, and surrounds two stars. No other structure is visible.

Tom Bryant

2011 12 25 20:28:34

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[5h 46m 42s, 0° 3m 0s] Only the faintest glow in tonight's slightly hazy skies. Invisible in the 24mm, best in the 18mm.

2006-09-26 03:30:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[5h 46m 42s, 0° 3m 0s] A low contrast bit of nebulosity involving 2 stars, about 40" apart, position angle approximately 20 degrees. It was not helped by the LPR filter. Burnham gives the distance as 53", and give the position angle as 18 degrees.

2006-09-26 03:30:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[5h 46m 42s, 0° 3m 0s] Very faint, if seen at all.

Auke Slotegraaf

2012 February 18, Saturday

Location: Paardeberg (ASSA Cape Centre dark sky site)[33:34.4S, 18:51.3E]

Time: 23:20 SAST

Binocs: 15x70 Celestron

Easy in binoculars as a roughly round nebulous glow, isolated from the background field. It is slightly brighter to the west, and is just over 4' across.

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