We’re all familiar with the amazing astroimaging talents of Damian Peach of Selsey, England. Well, Damian has struck again with what may be the greatest image I’ve seen taken by an amateur astronomer of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), the Milky Way’s satellite galaxy.
Damian used an FSQ 106 refractor, an STL-11000M CCD camera, and a composite of three images for the stacked exposure, which was shot while a 95-percent-illuminated Moon was present. The images each were 3 minutes exposures (RGB) and five 3-minute exposures (L).
The SMC is a dwarf irregular galaxy that orbits the Milky Way and may eventually be drawn in and consumed by our galaxy. It lies in the deep southern sky in the constellation Tucana and lies some 200,000 light-years away. The galaxy is loosely connected to the Large Magellanic Cloud, another Milky Way satellite, by a faint bridge of gas and neutral hydrogen envelope.
The SMC contains several discrete deep-sky objects visible in this image, including the bright emission nebulae/open clusters NGC 346 (bright blue-green, above center), NGC 371 (circular, lighter blue, and above left of NGC 346), and NGC 395 (rose-purple, above left of NGC 371).
What a phenomenal image!