The 16th century Portuguese navigator
Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the
southern sky during the
circumnavigation of planet Earth.
As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like
objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the
Clouds of Magellan,
now understood to be
satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy.
About 180,000 light-years distant in the constellation
Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably
deep, colorful composite image, starlight from the
central bluish bar
contrasting with the telltale reddish glow of
ionized atomic hydrogen gas.
Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is
the most massive of the Milky Way's
galaxies and is the home of the
supernova in modern times, SN 1987A.
The prominent patch at top left is 30 Doradus,
also know as the magnificent
The giant star-forming region is about 1,000 light-years across.
John P. Gleason