Messier 78 is a reflection nebula located in the Orion constellation about 1,600 lightyears away.
M78 has the ‘Messier’ designation because it is an entry on the famous Messier Catalogue of deep-sky objects compiled by astronomer Charles Messier in the 18th century.
Rather than a list of noteworthy deep-sky objects, Messier’s catalogue was actually a list of targets to avoid, as he was a dedicated comet hunter and was tired of mistaking deep-sky objects for comets.
M78 – Nebula by Bob Franke, Chino Valley, AZ USA. Equipment: 12.5″ RCOS Ritchey-Chrétien, Paramount ME, SBIG STL11000M, AstroDon LRGB
The Orion constellation has numerous astronomical gems, including the red giant star Betelgeuse and the Orion Nebula, but Messier 78 is another deep-sky treat for those looking for more objects to observe in the same patch of sky.
For advice on how to see it, read our guide to the best targets to observe in Orion. For advice on how to photograph a nebula, read our guide to deep-sky astrophotography.
And don’t forget to send us your images or share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Below is a selection of images of M78 captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers.
M78 Reflection Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 SCT, skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Canon Eos 1100d self-modified, Astronomik CLS CCD clip filter.
M78 & NGC2071 Reflection Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount, Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
M78 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
M78 & NGC2071 Reflection Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien, Skywatcher EQ8 mount, Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
M78 by Jeffrey O. Johnson, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: Takahashi FS-60C, Takahashi EM200 Temma II, QSI 540wsg, Filters Astrodon Ha (3nm), Astrodon Tru-Balance I-Series LRGB Gen 2, Guider SX Lodestar
Messier 78 in Orion by Terry Hancock, Colorado, USA. Equipment: Astro-Tech AT130 APO Refractor, Paramount GT-1100S German Equatorial Mount, QHY163M Mono COLDMOS, QHYCFW2-M 7 position Filter Wheel, Optolong filters, QHYOAG-M Off Axis Guider
M78 – Reflection, Star Birth and Dust in Orion by Graeme Coates, W. Oxfordshire, UK. Equipment: William Optics FLT110, with focal reducer, Losmandy Titan, SBIG ST2000XM
M78 by Alvaro Ibañez Perez, Las Inviernas, Guadalajara, Spain. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ106EDX, Takahashi EM400 Temma2, CCD Atik 460EX mono, Astrodon LRGB, IDAS LPS P2, SX USB Filter Wheel, Lunático EZG-60, SXLodestar, RoboFocus, AstroMatic (ftorrev).