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NGC 292 (579 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Small Magellanic Cloud

NGC 292, ESO 29-21, LEDA 3085, SMC, Nubecula Minor, Small Magellanic Cloud

RA: 00h 52m 38s
Dec: −72° 48′ 1″

Con: Tucana
Ch: MSA:501, U2:460, SA:24


(reference key)

Type: galaxy, Im

Mag: B=2.79, V=2.29

Size: 309′ x 204.1′
PA: ?

Image gallery

Photos  (6)

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NGC 292 = A 0051-73

Half of the size and 22 degrees west of the LMC is the SMC, in the constellation Tucana. Of the 34 NGC objects in it, only nine are bright.

Historical observations

John Herschel

This entry refers to the Small Magellanic Cloud as recorded by Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope with an 18-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He wrote: "I should consider this to be about the main body of the Nubecula Minor, which is here fairly resolved into excessively minute stars, which are however certainly seen with the left eye." And later: "Hereabouts seems to be placed the main body of the Nubecula Minor which is a Faint, Rich, Large Cluster of very small stars (12..18) filling many fields, and broken up into many knots, groups, and straggling branches. But the whole is clearly resolved into stars."

Published comments


The ESO/Uppsala Survey of the ESO(B) Atlas remarks: "The Small Magellanic Cloud." The magnitude is listed as 2.79.

Laustsen, S., Madsen, C. & West, R.M. (1987)

Exploring the Southern Sky: A pictorial atlas from the European Southern Observatory. Springer-Verlag.

Scanned image on disk. [1987EtSS.........0L], plate 64.

Hodge, P.W. (1975)

Hodge, P.W. (1975) Clusters of the Magellanic Clouds. I.A.J., 12(3/4), 77.

"Eric Lindsay's pioneering studies of the star clusters of the Magellanic Clouds produced remarkably complete and authoritative catalogues of these important objects. A review of the completeness of the searches for clusters in the LMC is included.

Lindsay, E. M. & McFarland, J

Lindsay, E. M. & McFarland, J. () "Star-counts between the tidal arm and the wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud" IAJ, Vol 9. p 219-226. "We can, broadly, consider three regions of the SMC: the main body, the 'tidal arm' and the 'wing'. The tidal arm is easily visible even on short exposure plates out to about 01h 30m, -74�. The wing, on longer exposures, can bve deteced at about 01h 55m -74� and extending further eastward. Emission line objects and clusters are found from the main body, along thet tidal arm and out to the wing, thus indicating that all three are connected. This link between the tidal arm and the wing is weak, however, suggesting taht the wing has lamost, but not quite, broken away from the tidal arm. The star density is readily seen to be highter thatn the normal field density at these latitudes; this is not so between the arm and the wing."

At the conclusion of the article, they write: "Opinions differ considerably as to the orientation of the Small Clouds in space. If we are looking at it flat on, or nearly so, then the relatively smooth western boundary and the considerably distorted eastern side would suggestr a disruptive force resulting in the tidal arm and the almost complete separation of the wing. If, however, as has been suggested, we observe the Cloud edge on, the eastern phenomenon may be a spiral arm somewat similar to what we see for example in M51."

Lindsay, E. M

Lindsay, E. M. "Note on NGC and IC objects in the Small Magellanic Cloud" IAJ, Vol 6. p 2-3.

(Armagh Observatory, December 25, 1961)

"The NGC objects in the Small Cloud are taken from Herschel's Catalogues in his Cape Observations. Herschel set the area of the Cloud to lie between declinations -72� and -75� and RA 0h 28m and 1h 15m (1830). He denoted the end of the Cloud by the Number 194 in his Catalogue ... "one minute further in RA, it is completely past." This Catalogue however lists 241 objects up to RA 1h36m (omitting 47 Tuc and NGC 362); 204 objects are classified as stars, 33 as nebulae and four as clusters.

To the same limit of RA there are also 37 objects in Herschel's General Catalogue. There are two additional entries in this, namely nos 2381 and 2398, but nos 120 and 162 of the Nubecula Minor Catalogue are omitted. In the IC there are 11 Cloud objects. If we take the larger boundaries of the Cloud to be approximately declinations -69 and -78 and RA 0h and 2h, there are only two additional NGC objects taken from Herschel's Catalgoue.

Most of the NGC and IC objects are readily identified. There are a few that have been looked for on 30m exposure 103a-O ADH plates which are remarked upon in the follwoing table.

[table included in main database]

Herschel considered that "the access to the Nub. Minor on all sides, is through a desert." As mentioned above he set its eastern limit at RA 1h15m. In a sweep on November 5, 1836he reocrds the following at 1h 13m, 164� 15' -- "this seems to be about the end of the Small Cloud. The field has 15 or 20 stars in it 11..15. Above and below it is almost vacant." At 2h0m however we have the extremely interesting observation -- "here, after a region of utter barrenness, commences a somewhat brighter region." At 2h 42m he was back to "a miserably poor and barren region."

In fact, Herschel with his 18.25-inch aperture reflector had unknowingly visually observed the wing of the Cloud. Over 100 years later it was discovered by Shapley and identified by him as such on a twenty-hour exposure plate taken 30 years previously."

Visual brightness and form of the Magellanic Clouds

Gaposchkin, S. () "Visual brightness and form of the Magellanic Clouds", IAJ, 5, p 4-6.

"The visual brightness and form of the Magellanic Clouds have never been determined with any precision, as far as I know. Various photographic and photoelectric determinations exist and they show a surprisingly great variety of values. ... Their diversity illustrates the difficulty in determining the brightness of an area in comparison with a point source. Usually in such comparisons it is attempted to reduce the area to similarity with a point, as is the practice with extragalactic nebulae. Here I make use of a reverse method by transforming the point source into a small extrafocal surface.

Both Clouds lens themselves easily to comparison in this respect. To the unaided eye they apear to be more or less of uniform brihgtness over the mjaor part of their extent. Especially is this true in respect of the SMC. The LMC may be subdivided into two or thre ones of approxiamtely uniform brightness. Both clouds are surrounded by a sufficient number of bright comparison stars of well-known magnitudes.

It is interesting to note that the recently published (Eggen, O., & de Vaucouleurs, G. (1956) PASP, 68, 429) visual isophotes as determined photoelectrically do not represent well the actual impression produced by the LMC upon the unaided eye.

In a firmly mounted binocular of low power, in which the appearance of the Cloud suffered no noticeable change as compaed with that visible to the naked eye, I matched the surface brightness of extrafocal images of stars of known magnitude wiht the surface brightness of a part of the Cloud, and plotted the size of the extrafocal images of the stars on the same graph paper with the Cloud [rest of methodology omitted].

The table below gives the numercial values for the MC as obtained by me on several evening in Novermber and December when the LMC was in its best position for visual estimates. The obserations were made on the small platform surrounding the lower part of the buildings on which the Farnham telescope, Mount Stromlo, is erected. ... The mean visual magnitude is then -1m.26. The uncertainty of the individual values can lie within 10%, or 0m.1.

... [The visual magnitude of the SMC is given as +1.23]

The accompanying sketch represents the appearance of the LMC to the unaided eye. It has been drawn several times during evenings when no atmospheric clouds were seen and the background of the sky seemed to be of a velvety dark texture, the silhouette of the Large Cloud being nearly vertical and about 50 degrees from the horizon - both confitions, as is well known, being favourable for viual sketching.

The LMC resembles visually an S-shape pattern in which the upper end is less curved than the lower. The bar, or the main trunk of the Cloud, is directed practically straight towards gamma Volantis which is the apex of the Kite constellation above Beta Carinae. The very faintly delineated shades on the periphery of our pattern around gamma Volantis may well be of spurious nature. In the projection the Milky Way is not far from the LMC; the gaseous smoke of the Galaxy rising alng a broad lane from the sun towards Carina can protrude high up and surreptitiously link the Galaxy with the Cloud. Another such visual linkage may be perceived starting from Gammma Velorum, irregularly sprawling under Canopus and joinging the Cloud about Beta and Delta Doradus; and a third begins under the Cloud and reaches the Milky Way at Corona Australis after passing the South Pole.

The LMC is definitely of a slightly brownish-grey hue, but the Small Cloud is bluish. The visual colour index of the main trunk of the Cloud would be lsightly smaller than that used above, and that of the SMC is certainly much smaller; it may be as small as 0.0m.

Doig, P. (1925) Journal BAA, 36(3), December, p91

"In these are to be found all classes of celestial objects, with the exception, apparently, of spiral nebulae. The Larger Cloud is situated according to stimates based on the contained Cepheids and Otype stars, at a distance of about 100,000 light years, and is roughtly 12,000 ly in diameter. The Smaller Cloud is thought to e at about the same distnace, or perhaps somewhat less, and approx. 600ly indiameter. ... Photos of the Larger Coud seem to show a rough spiral structure but Shapley considers it 'difficult to find any trace of genuione spiral structure on the Magellanic Clouds'. ... Sir John Herschel found that strong moonlight obliterated the Smaller Cloud to the naked eye, but not quite the Larger Cloud."

[dome-l] Magellanic Clouds

posted to HASTRO-L

From the research I have done, it is clear that astronomers did *not* name these galaxies nor did Pigafetta nor did Magellan himself. It would appear that various explorers/pirates first used that name before it finally became entrenched in the culture and astronomy. I am currently trying to find out who was the first and if Sir Francis Drake had something to do with the name since he followed Magellan's footsteps 60 years later. If anyone knows of a quote or a specific diary...

To complete my article, I will need the quotes from Maria Mitchell, which referred to "Magellan's Patches" and William Smyth who called them "Magellan's Coalsacks" (He also referred to the actual Coalsack Nebula as "the Black Magellanic Cloud"). I hoped I could look for the answer in Maria Mitchell's papers but Ms. Mitchell's old college never cooperated and I cannot find William Smyth's book. If anyone can help, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Andre Bordeleau


In Andre Bordeleau's recent post, he mentioned:

[ [ I will need the quotes from Maria Mitchell, which

[ [ referred to "Magellan's Patches" and William=20

[ [ Smyth who called them "Magellan's Coalsacks"=20

[ [ (He also referred to the actual Coalsack Nebula as

[ [ "the Black Magellanic Cloud").=20

In W. H. Smyth's book, _Cycle of Celestial Objects_, vol. 1, Prolegomena (London: John W. Parker, 1844), on p. 309 he writes about the Milky Way or Via Lactea:

"It traverses the asterisms from Cassiopeia and Perseus, which it nearly covers, passing by Auriga, between Taurus and Gemini, over Orion's club, and the preceding parts of Monoceros, through Argo to the Southern Cross, keeping opposite to the Magellanic clouds, or [italics begin] Sacks of Coals, [italics end] of our early navigators."


Ronald Brashear

Curator of Science & Technology Rare Books

Dibner Library of the History of Science & Technology

Special Collections Dept.

Smithsonian Institution Libraries

NMAH 5016

Washington, DC 20560-0630

202-357-1568 phone

202-633-9102 fax

brashearr@sil.si.edu email



Shapley, H. (1923?)

Angular dimensions of Magellanic Clouds. Harv Coll. Obs. Bulletin 796. [192?BHarO.796b....S]

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a galaxy. Their coded description reads MAIN BODY OF SMC.

Schmidt et al (1993)

Other names: "SMC, A0051-73". Inclination: (face-on, in degrees) 63 Total photoelectric blue mag 2.70 Total colour index .45 Logarithm of the angular diameter D25 (arcminutes) 3.50 This galaxy is included in a sample of galaxies with velocity less than 500km/s with respect to the centroid of the Local Group. [Nearby Galaxies. Schmidt K.-H., Priebe A., Boller T. (Astron. Nachr. 314, 371 (1993))]

Photo index

SMC Photo index by Jim Lucyk: Sky & Tel. 2/87 p131, Sky & Tel. 3/86 p239, Sky & Tel. 4/84 p317, Sky & Tel. 4/87 p373, Sky & Tel. 7/69 p23, Astronomy mag. 12/76 p8, Burnhams V3 p1914, Rev.Shapley-Ames Cat.of Bright Gal. (Sandage,Tammann 1981) p113

Modern observations


G'day All

I have done further work to the SMC site. I have changed some parts due to some suggestions that I have received. As always I'm looking for some observations and comments

The site can be found at


Thanks and

Clear Skies

Andrew Murrell

[amastro] The SMC

What would be _real_ nice is to get Mati Morel's LMC/SMC atlas charts scanned and on-line. They're pretty much 'sine qua non' for observing beyond the showpieces.



This is a heads-up from Australian observer Andrew Murrell informing us of a Web page about the SMC. It's off to a good start, and we can only wish for something like this for the LMC. I invited him to join amastro, which is in need of Southern Hemisphere representation.



] Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 00:29:55 -0800

] From: Andrew Murrell [hector@dragon.net.au]

] The SMC


] Hello

] This is just a quick note to let you know that the SMC site has had some


] changes of late and I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions

] on how to improve or correct what has been listed.

] the site can be found at

] http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Orbit/2142/index.html

] Thank You

] Andrew Murrell

] P.S. The maps are coming soon. They will be the Herald Bobroff charts of

] the cloud

] I am having a bit of trouble with the image maps.

Brian Skiff

naked eye - IAB(s)m V. fairly br, lg, modlosfcbr gx w/irreg shape. outline elong NE-SW, maj axis is 1/3 sep btwn beta Hyi and kappa Tuc; lambda Hyi just w/in border on S edge. brtr oval region on S side elong ENE-WSW, then fntr extn NE from here. this extn contains wk brtr patch (N346). 47 Tuc outside border on W, where outline is fairly well def; outline diffuse inside arc to SE of main body. BS, 17Nov1993, LCO.

Contemporary observations

Kerneels Mulder

2009 January 25

Date and Time: 25 January 2009, 0:25
Location: Prince Albert (Western Cape, South Africa).
Instrument: Naked eye, 10x50 binoculars (5� FOV)
Sky Conditions: Haze. Seeing: 5/10. Transparency: Poor
Very windy

Naked eye: Very easy to locate. About 20� from LMC and 15� S from Achernar. Appears as a small elongated cloud about 3� x 2� in size.

10x50: Shape more defined with stars visible around the diffuse glow. 47 Tucanae visible 1� to the W of the SMC.

Brightness is not uniform. It's slightly brighter towards the SW edge with a dark indentation towards the NE giving it bean-like shape. Using averted vision a patch of nebulosity can also be seen toward NE within the diffuse glow of the background stars.

Chris Vermeulen

2006 September 26

2006/9/26, 22h17

Sky Conditions: Clear

Quality of Observation: Good

Boyden Observatory, Bloemfontein

6" Dobsonian

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is visible to the naked eye in dark sky areas where light pollution does not affect observations. Although it is not a very bright object it was still detectable with the naked eye as very feint fuzziness above the S horizon. An irregular shaped object, the SMC is similar to it larger counterpart, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The only difference is that the SMC, as its name indicates, is smaller than and not as bright as the LMC. Even through a telescope the SMC still appears as a cloud-like object and not many features are visible.

Next to the SMC is its companion Tuc 47 - a magnificent globular cluster gracing the night skies. Bright enough also to detect with the naked eye. Although Tuc 47 has a lower magnitude it is more visible than the SMC due to much higher surface/appearance brightness. With 48x magnification the close-knit cluster of stars shine in splendour. It appears as a very grainy object and towards the centre the brightness increases as the stars are more densely compacted.

Auke Slotegraaf

LMC is three fingers wide, and the SMC is 2 fingers across.


1997-09-20, Sutherland (Karoo), SAAO plateau. 11x80 tripod-mounted binoculars. Skies excellent. Bloated, tear-drop shape. Several knots of light inside. Fills field for 4.5� with delicate tendrils of light.

Pierre de Villiers

2016 February 04, Thursday

Location: Bonnievale SSP (Night Sky Caravan Park)

Telescope: Skywatcher 200-mm f/5, Delos 8-mm (0.57-deg fov)

Small Magellanic CLoud is an irregular galaxy. Impressive. m about 2.0. Size 200 x 90-arcmin.

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