The Seagull Nebula spreads its wings across 100 light-years

This beautiful image is an up-close look at one of the universe's best examples of pareidolia: the Seagull Nebula, also known as the Parrot Nebula or Eagle Nebula, depending on your ornithological preference. Point is, this is one gargantuan bird.

Just like the Man in the Moon, the face on Mars, and, for some reason, the entire state of California, this collection of dust and gas just so happens, when viewed from Earth, to look like something familiar. In this case, I'd argue the bird's head is more crucial to the illusion than its wings, which are honestly pretty faint and ghostly in this image. But that head, which just happens to have a black spot right where I think an eye should be, not to mention a gap right where a mouth could go? Throw in what looks like the outline of a rather sharp beak, and consider me convinced.

The Seagull Nebula spreads its wings across 100 light-years


Remarkably, the image up top of the Seagull Nebula — or the Parrot Nebula, as my overactive imagination prefers to see it — isn't even the most convincing image. For my money, I'd say that honor goes to the one down here on the left, which was taken in 2009 and also happens to include the tinier Duck Nebula down on the bottom right corner. Truly, the cosmos is for the birds. For yet another look at this particular cosmic illusion, you can also go here.