The Large Magellanic Cloud
PGC 17223

30 minutes exposure, 3M 1000 slide film.
50mm f/2 Nikkormat lens.

One of the most spectacular sights for southern hemisphere observers has to be the Large Magellanic Cloud. Visible to the naked eye even in moderately light polluted skies, it appears as a small cloud or a detached portion of the Milky Way. Binoculars give an excellent view and almost any telescope reveals a wealth of detail. Large Magellanic Cloud contains so many interesting objects, that a single night is insufficient to observe them all! Indeed, as a fun exercise, I decided to see how many NGC objects I could find within the cloud, using a 6" telescope. After observing the the entire night, I had still only covered about a quarter of the galaxy, despite having logged nearly 200 objects: less than 1/3 of the NGC objects listed within the cloud!!!!.

Located about 160,000 light years away, The Large Magellanic Cloud is about half the size of the Milky Way. It is classified as an irregular galaxy, however there is some hint of a central bar. There is considerable debate about this feature, whether it is a true bar or just a result of tidal interaction with the Milky Way.

Film Images

DSLR Images

CCD Images

LMC Objects

During May of 1987, the bright comet Wilson passed very close to the Large Magellanic Cloud, resulting in a naked eye comet being close to a naked eye nebula in a naked eye galaxy.

During 1999 another bright comet, comet Hale-Bopp, also passed very close to the Large Magellanic Cloud, making a nice show. Photographs of the conjunction can be found here. The comet actually stayed close to the Cloud for many months as it receded from the sun and faded. At one stage it was difficult to image the comet due to the large number of stars belonging to the Cloud as it passed through the outskirts of the galaxy.