M42 (NGC1976), The 'Orion Nebula', and NGC1977, The 'Running Man' Nebula.
The Orion Nebula is one of the most spectacular objects in the night sky. It can be seen as an area of fuzziness below the belt of Orion by the naked eye, and is easily visible in binoculars. A small telescope will reveal the shape of the nebula, and a larger telescope will show a wealth of detail.
It is a star forming region and what we know as the nebula is an area of a large molecular cloud that is being illuminated by the hot new stars at it's centre.
It lies at a distance of 1400 light years from us and 24 light years across, meaning that we are seeing it as it was just after the end of the Roman period in Britain.
Click on image below for full size version
This image is nowhere near as deep as some of the other magnificent images
of this object posted by others with dark skies, but I was actually quite
surprised how much of the surrounding dark dust was captured, despite
some quite severe light pollution from Portland Port.
Imaged from Weymouth in January 2012