This image was obtained with the wide-field view of the Mosaic camera on the KPNO 0.9m-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. M8, the Lagoon Nebula is a giant star forming region. It is so big that it is faintly visible to the naked eye. The gas in the nebula is energized by a massive star at its center, causing the gas to glow. The dark objects within the nebula are called Bok globules, and are dense clouds of gas in which new stars are forming.
These regions are named after Bart Bok, a Dutch-American astronomer who first noticed the dark spots in regions of star formation. Bok speculated that they may be associated with the earliest stages of star formation, but hidden baby stars were only directly observed several decades later with the invention of infrared imaging.