This is a Hubble photo of spiral galaxy M100 which is similar in form to our Milky Way. Our sun, and hence our earth, are located in one of the relatively clear spaces between the spiral arms. This, according to Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards in Privileged Planet, is extremely fortunate since were it not the case the heavens would have been obscured from view by the dust and consequently modern science, which was contingent to a large extent on astronomical observation, would probably never have developed.
It's also possible that had our planet been located almost anywhere else in the galaxy higher life forms could not have arisen. If earth were embedded in one of the arms of the spiral the amount of debris, radiation, and gravitational effects to which it would have been subjected would have created an extremely harsh environment for living things.
Read Privileged Planet or Rare Earth by Ward and Brownlee for more on the amazing fortuitousness of the location of the earth in space.RLC