Southern Neighbor Galaxy: The Large Magellanic Cloud

The Large Magellanic Cloud is a great cloud of stars in the southern sky, which is named after the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who wrote about it in his journals. I had the thought recently, after reading about the Large Magellanic Cloud, that Ferdinand and his crew must looked at this this mysterious cloud that spanned the space of more than 21 full moons with a great sense of wonder.

Living in the Northern Hemisphere, we miss some of the most spectacular views of the sky. So when I had the opportunity to capture an image using a the telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, I selected a wide view of the cloud. The LMC is considered a “barred spiral” galaxy although from our view it is difficult to see these characteristics. The observatory in Australia is associated with the

The distance to the LMC has been calculated  to be about 163,000 light years. Its relative closeness has given astronomers many opportunities to study the similarities to and differences from conditions within our own Milky Way. The New General Catalog of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars lists dozens of objects within the LMC. Just the idea that there are distinct objects in another galaxy that are observable is amazing.

Probably the most prominent object is the Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070) seen in the upper left in the wide-field image above.

The Tarantula Nebula got its name in the mid-20th Century from the appearance in deep photographic exposures. It’s brightness is remarkable given that its distance is on the order of 160,000 light years. I captured this image with the 17-inch Dall-Kirkham telescope at Slooh’s Santa Martian Observatory in Chile.

~ by Rsmith on September 27, 2020.

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