Image Credit & Copyright: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and N.S. van der Bliek (NOAO/AURA/NSF)
Located roughly 2,700 light years away in the constellation Monoceros the Unicorn; is this beautiful region known as Monoceros R2 (Mon R2) with the “R” representing “reflection” as in reflection nebula. At its heart and shrouded in the molecular cloud is the star forming region NGC 2170. This is one of the closer star forming regions to the Sun and for the northern hemisphere is in your night time skies all winter.
Though not visible in a short human lifetime, this region is being re-shaped dramatically by the intense stellar winds radiating from the newborn stars. To locate this region you will want to travel about 8 degrees east of Orion and it covers about 2 full degrees of night sky. That’s 4 Full Moon diameters. You won’t see it like you do in this image of course but in small telescopes some of the stars should be visible.
NAME: Monoceros R2, NGC 2170.
WHAT IS IT?: Molecular cloud and star forming region.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Roughly 2,700 light years.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Roughly 20 light years in diameter.
HOW OLD IS IT?: 8-10 million years.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE: Around 10.
DISCOVERY: October 16, 1784 by Sir. William Herschel.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Monoceros the Unicorn.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA: 06h 07m 31,3s / DEC −06° 23′ 53″.
NOAO page for this image: https://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im1102.html