Written in January 2018
One of the most common questions I get when I tell people about the gigantic telescope (it has a 28-inch mirror!) that will be housed as the JGAP observatory is:
"What will we be able to see?"
First and foremost, at this time next year we will be pointing our big scope (and many of the smaller ones, too) at one of the most spectacular objects in the heavens: The Great Orion Nebula (a.k.a "M42").
M42 is the illuminated portion of a an incomprehensibly vast cloud of gas and dust that fills much of the constellation of Orion. At its heart is a small, newborn, cluster of bright stars carving out, and illuminating, a flower-shaped notch.
Though it is over 1500 light-years away, it is visible to the naked eye as the fuzzy middle "star" in the sword of Orion.
The human eye does not easily detect the spectacular splash of color that is seen in photographs, but the blossom-shaped glow that is seen in telescopes is nonetheless ghostly and astonishing and unlike anything you've ever seen on Earth.
This illustration shows _approximately_ what it will look like.
The real thing is better.
M42 can be seen in the winter!