The Small Magellanic Cloud, or SMC, is an irregular dwarf galaxy that is gravitationally bound to our Milky Way Galaxy. The globular star cluster to the upper left of the SMC in this photo is 47 Tucanae. Rated at magnitude 2.2, the SMC is visible to the naked eye and appears as a hazy patch in the sky. The SMC and the Large Magellanic Cloud are only visible from the sourthern hemisphere, because they are both located close to the south celestial pole.
The SMC has a diameter of about 7,000 light-years, and is about 180,000 light-years away. The dwarf galaxy is estimated to contain several hundred million stars.
The SMC is part of the Local Group that includes the Andromeda Galaxy, M33, M110, M32, and the LMC. The SMC was named in honor of Ferdinand Magellan who circumnavigated the globe in the years 1519 to 1522.
This photo was taken at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, with a Nikon F2 camera using a 105mm Nikon lens at f2.5. The camera was mounted piggyback on a Takahashi FS-78 telescope carried on a Takahashi EM-10 Temma Jr. mount that was guided using an SBIG ST-8XE CCD. The film was Kodak PJM multispeed color negative film, and the exposure time was 20 minutes.
RA: 00h 52m 40s Dec: -72d 48' 34" (J2000)
October 10, 2013
Image by Sid Leach
Las Campanas Observatory, Chile
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