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Daniel Stern

Location of Photo:

Rio Hurtado, Chile

Date/Time of photo:

Various days in September 2023




There are a lot of superlatives used when describing the Tarantula Nebula. In addition to being the largest known active star formation region in our galactic neighborhood, it is huge. It spans 1,000 light-years. Like most numbers in astronomy, it’s hard to put that into perspective. For comparison, the Milky Way’s Orion Nebula (M42), the finest example of a star-forming region visible from mid-northern latitudes, is a mere 25 light-years in diameter. To put it another way, if you were to place the Tarantula at the same distance as the Orion Nebula, it would cover as much sky as 75 Full Moons placed side by side — enough to stretch 40 percent of the way from the horizon to the zenith. And it would be bright enough to cast noticeable shadows.