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Magellanic Clouds

The two Magellanic Clouds are irregular dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way galaxy, and thus are members of our Local Group of galaxies.

The Large Magellanic Cloud, together with its apparent neighbour and relative, the Small Magellanic Cloud, are conspicuous objects in the southern hemisphere, looking like separated pieces of the Milky Way to the naked eye.

They were certainly known since the earliest times by the ancient southerners. The first preserved mention of the Large Magellanic Cloud was by Persian astronomer Al Sufi, who in 964 A.D, in his Book of Fixed Stars, calls it Al Bakr, the White Ox of the southern Arabs, and points out that while invisible from Northern Arabia and Baghdad, this object is visible from the strait of Bab el Mandeb, at 1215' Northern latitude. Eventually, it was Ferdinand Magellan and his discovery expedition who brought them to our knowledge in 1519.