The Small Magellenic Cloud (the SMC) is a dwarf galaxy that orbits our own Milky
Way Galaxy. It is not shaped in the classic whorls or spirals of more famous
galaxies, because its shape (known as irregular) has long ago been distorted by
constant gravitational interaction with our galaxy. Slowly its stars are being
captured into the Milky Way.
The SMC is visible even under average suburban lighting, but it is most
impressive when viewed with the naked eye or in binoculars from a dark site. To the
naked eye, especially in suburbia, the SMC often looks like a high dim cloud (i.e. a real
Two interesting features are the prominent blue-green blobs which are the
emission nebulae (NGC346) and (NGC371). These nebulae (and the galaxy itself) emit
strongly in the blue end of the spectrum.
A nearby object of interest is the magnificent globular cluster NGC104 (Queen of
the Globs) in the image below.
Big Brother to the SMC is the LMC (the Large Magellenic Cloud)