The Black Cloud - a dark absorption nebula - a Bok globule.

Barnard 68 was discovered by Edward E. Barnard and was published in his list of astronomical objects in 1919. Barnard 68 itself appears to be a rather compact, opaque and sharply defined object upon a rich star field. There are no stars that are between us and the cloud - an indication that it is nearby.

Barnard 68 is 7 light months across (about 0.2 parsecs or 12,500 AU) and is located about 410 lightyears away, in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Barnard 68 masses about 2 solar masses. Its density is greatest in the center and decreases as it goes away - a delicate balance of gravity and thermal pressure. This balance is much like that found in a main sequence star. The 12,500 AU radius is intriguing in that it is approximately the same radius as the Oort Cloud of our sun which measures the edge of the solar system.

Barnard 68 and its nearby kin (B69, B70, B72) are believed to be the remains of a larger cloud that has been eaten away by the stellar winds from new stars and supernovae. It is expected that within the next 100,000 years, if things continue as they are now, Barnard 68 will form a new low mass star.