Small Magellanic Cloud


The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is a dwarf galaxy. It is classified as a dwarf irregular galaxy. It has a diameter of about 7,000 light-years and contains several hundred million stars. It has a total mass of approximately 7 billion times the mass of the Sun.

Some speculate that the SMC was once a barred spiral galaxy that was disrupted by the Milky Way to become somewhat irregular. It contains a central bar structure.

At a distance of about 200,000 light-years, it is one of the Milky Way’s nearest neighbors. It is also one of the most distant objects that can be seen with the naked eye.

With a mean declination of approximately −73 degrees, it can only be viewed from the Southern Hemisphere and the lower latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. It is located in the constellation of Tucana and appears as a hazy, light patch in the night sky about 3 degrees across. It looks like a detached piece of the Milky Way. Since it has a very low surface brightness, it is best viewed from a dark site away from city lights.

It forms a pair with the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), which lies a further 20 degrees to the east. The Small Magellanic Cloud is a member of the Local Group.

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Takahashi FSQ106 ED
Imaging cameras: NIKON D800
Mounts: Losmandy G11
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Saxon 80mm
Guiding cameras: The Imaging Source DMK41AF02.AS
Software: DeepSkyStacker, PHD guiding, photoshop
Dates: May 18, 2012
Frames: 11×300″
Integration: 0.9 hours

Author: Andrew Lockwood
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI
14 June 2014