|Observation data: J2000.0 epoch|
|Right ascension||05h 46.7m|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||8.3|
|Apparent dimensions (V)||8′ × 6′|
|Absolute magnitude (V)||-|
|Notable features||Part of the Orion Complex|
|Other designations||NGC 2068, Ced55u|
The nebula Messier 78 (also known as M 78 or NGC 2068) is a w:reflection nebula in the w:constellation Orion. It was discovered by w:Pierre Méchain in w:1780 and included by w:Charles Messier in his catalog of w:comet-like objects that same year.
M78 is the brightest diffuse reflection nebula of a group of nebulae that include NGC 2064, NGC 2067 and NGC 2071. This group belongs to the w:Orion Molecular Cloud Complex and is about 1,600 w:light years distant from w:Earth. M78 is easily found in small w:telescopes as a hazy patch and involves two w:stars of 10th magnitude. These two stars, HD 38563A and HD 38563B, are responsible for making the cloud of dust in M78 visible by reflecting their light.