Discovered in or before 1731 by Jean-Jacques Dortous De Mairan.
[Mem. Acad. for 1771, p. 451-452 (first Messier catalog)]
The star which is above, & has little distance from that nebula, & of which is spoken in the Traité de l'Aurore boréale [Treat of the Northern Light] by M. de Mairan is surrounded, & equally by a very thin light; the star doesn't have the same brilliance as the four of the great nebula: its light is pale, & it appears covered by fog. I determined its position; its right ascension was 81d 3' 0", & its declination 5d 26' 37" south.
[p. 458] 1769.Mar. 4. RA: 81. 3. 0, Dec: 5.26.37.A. Position of the small star which is above the nebula of Orion & which is surrounded by a faint light.
[On p. 458-561 of the 1771 memoir follows a Drawing and Description of the Orion Nebula M42/43]
[P. 38, plate XXX. From the description
.. To the northeast, beyond the nebulous place, there is still another single star, which has some nebulosity around it. ..
[From: Notes to Sir W. Herschel's First Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters,
by J.L.E. Dreyer, in: Scientific Papers, Vol. 2, p. 298]
III.1 is an appendage to the north of M.43.
[1811: PT Vol. 1811, p. 226-336; here p. 281]
5. Of milky Nebulae.
When datached nebulosities are small we are used to call them nebulae, and it is already known from my catalogues that their number is very great. It will therefore be sufficient to refer only to a few, of which hte nebulosity is of the milky kind. (*) [see 8 nebulae, including M43]
[p. 320-325; from a description of M42]
31. Of the Distance of the Nebula in the Constellation Orion
In the year 1774, the 4th of March, I observed the nebulous star, which is the 43d of the Connoissance des Temps and is not many minutes north of the great nebula; but at the same time I also took notice of two similar, but much smaller nebulous stars; one on each side of the large one, and at nearly equal distance from it. Fig. 37 is a copy of the drawing which was made at the time of observation.
In 1783, I reexamined the nebulous star, and found it to be faintly surrounded with a circular glory of whitish nebulosity, faintly joined to the great nebula.
About the latter end of the same year I remarked that it was not equally surrounded, but most nebulous toware the south.
In 1784 I began to entertain an opinion that the star was not connected with the nebulosity of the great nebula in Orion, but was one of those which are scattered over that part of the heavens.
In 1801, 1806, and 1810 this opinion was fully confirmed, by the gradual change which happened in the great nebula, to which the nebulosity surrounding this star belongs. For the intensity of the light about the nebulous star had by this time been considerably reduced, by attenuation or dissipation of nebulous matter [this observation was probably an illusion]; and it seemed now to be pretty evident that the star is far behind the nebulous matter, and that consequently its light in passing through it is scattered and deflected, so as to produce the appearance of a nebulous star [these speculations are not correct]. A similar phenomenon may be seen whenever a planet or a star of the 1st or 2nd magnitude happens to be involved in haziness; for a diffused circular light will then be seen, to which, but in a much inferior degree, that which surrounds this nebulous star bears a great resemblance.
When I reviewed this interesting object in December 1810, I directed my attention particularly to the two small nebulous stars, by sides of the large one, and found that they were perfectly free from every nebulous appearance; which confirmed not only my former surmise of the great attenuation of the nebulosity, but also proved that their former nebulous appearance had been entirely the effect of the passage of their feeble light through the nebulous matter spread out before them [actually, these nebulous stars had probably been illusions].
The 19th of January 1811, I had another critical examination of the same object in a very clear view through the 40-feet telescope; but notwithstanding the superior light of this instrument, I could not perceive any remains of nebulosity about the two small stars, which were perfectly clear, and in the same situation, where about thirty-seven years before I had seen them involved in nebulosity.
[Unpublished Observations of Messier's Nebulae and Clusters.
Scientific Papers, Vol. 2, p. 298 (??)]
III.1 is an appendage to the north of M.43.
Last Modification: March 25, 2005