Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Small Magellanic Cloud

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is an irregular galaxy in orbit about our own Milky Way.

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

The Small Magellanic Cloud. The globular cluster 47 Tucanae appears in the upper part of the image .

With a mean declination of approximately -72 degrees, it is best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere. It can be 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.

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

Since it has a very low surface brightness, it is best viewed from a dark site away from city lights.

The Magellanic clouds are best visible in the southern hemisphere, although they are visible 5 degrees from the horizon in Hawaii

See also: Magellanic Clouds and Large Magellanic Cloud.