Tag Archives: SMC

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

Open Cluster NGC 290: A Stellar Jewel Box 

Image Credit: ESA & NASA; Acknowledgement: E. Olszewski (U. Arizona)

Jewels don’t shine this bright — only stars do. Like gems in a jewel box, though, the stars of open cluster NGC 290 glitter in a beautiful display of brightness and color. The photogenic cluster, pictured above, was captured recently by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Open clusters of stars are younger, contain few stars, and contain a much higher fraction of blue stars than do globular clusters of stars. NGC 290 lies about 200,000 light-years distant in a neighboring galaxy called the Small Cloud of Magellan (SMC). The open cluster contains hundreds of stars and spans about 65 light years across. NGC 290 and other open clusters are good laboratories for studying how stars of different masses evolve, since all the open cluster’s stars were born at about the same time.

NASA APOD 08-Jun-14