March 11 2013
Taken from Afton Prairie outside DeKalb, Illinois with my t2i and Orion ED80 telescope.
Visible overhead in the south, during winter and early spring months, in the sword of the Orion constellation.
12 light years across, 1,344 light years distant from us. This cloud of gas is a stellar nursery, and the brightness in the nebula is of new stars being born.
Our sun started in a place like this, and eventually drifted away to grow up in a remote arm of the galaxy, fostering the only planet we know of so far to contain life.