Lying about 6000 light years away in the constellation of Centaurus, the Running Chicken Nebula (aka the Lambda Centauri nebula) IC 2948 and the associated IC 2944, are located just a few degrees southeast of the famous Eta Carinae nebula. The bright star at upper center is the 3rd magnitude Lambda Centauri. The smaller nearby nebulae to the right of frame are RCW 60, Gum 39 (top right) and RCW 61, Gum 41 (bottom right)
To the left of center you'll notice dark spots (it's best to view the full resolution version - click on "Original" below). These spots are called Thackeray's globules - Bok globules discovered by South African astronomer David Thackeray - and are dense clouds of dust one or two light years across and are usually associated with star forming (HII) regions.
For a cropped version of IC 2948 see http://upload.pbase.com/gailmarc/image/126533998/large