Credit: NASA/ESA and L. Ricci (ESO)
Ever looked through the window of a hospital nursery full of newborn babies? You may have noticed that the babies are wrapped in warm fleecy blankets.
Ever looked through the window of a nursery full of newborn stars? In the constellation of Orion, the hazy area in the sword of Orion is an opening into a huge cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born, called the Orion Nebula.
The Hubble Space Telescope has revealed that many of the infant stars in the Orion nursery are wrapped in blankets of warm gas and dust.
But these blankets aren’t there to keep the stars warm. These blankets of gas and dust can, in a few million years, develop into planets that orbit around the stars.
Our star, the Sun, was born in a nursery similar to the Orion Nebula about five billion years ago. The infant Sun, too, was likely wrapped in a dusty blanket that transformed into the planets, including Earth, which now orbit our Sun.
If it's clear outside, you can see the Orion Nebula tonight. (The diagram above shows you where to look in the Orion constellation.) To see it through a telescope, click here to locate your nearest astronomy club.
Experience the joys of learning about our Earth and sky
(Photo Credit: Dr. J. Sizemore, Astronomical Society of East Texas)
We invite you to join the NASA Night Sky Network stargazing community on Facebook and Twitter for sky charts, beautiful images, and lively conversation.
Find star parties held by astronomy clubs in your area quickly using these apps or use the website!
Go StarGaze, the NASA Night Sky Network astronomy app, developed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, helps you find astronomy clubs and their stargazing events on the go!
Distant Suns, your personal guide to the cosmos, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the main navigation bar. Distant Suns is available on iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and NOOK.
SkySafari, a powerful planetarium that fits in your pocket, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the help menu. SkySafari is available for Android and the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Clear skies and happy stargazing!
The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in cooperation with NASA.