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Small Magellanic Cloud

Small Magellanic Cloud, SMC, NGC 292; named after the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, whose expedition first circumnavigated the globe between 1519 and 1522.


Classified as an irregular galaxy, the SMC is a gravitationally bound companion of the Milky Way Galaxy. One of only three galaxies visible to the unaided eye, the SMC can be detected as an area of faint, diffuse starlight (appearing like a fuzzy glow in the sky) when viewed from dark locations in the Southern Hemisphere.


The galaxy is in the constellation Tucana in the Southern Hemisphere.

Distance from Earth

200,000 light-years


The visible portion of the galaxy is 7,500 light-years across.

The Small Magellanic Cloud is an irregular galaxy, which means it has no definable shape.

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"Fast Facts: Small Magellanic Cloud" is a table that lists the name, description, location, size, and distance of the galaxy from Earth. A picture of the galaxy is included.

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Adaptable, at teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Use this resource as:

A source of information. Read the table to find out about this object.

A mapping activity. Locate the galaxy's associated constellation on a star map.

A large-number recognition activity. Have students study this table and other galaxy Fast Fact tables.  Students can order objects based upon their distances from Earth.

An inquiry tool. Have students write down questions they would like answered about the image and the information in the Fast Facts table.

An engagement tool. Involve students in a discussion.

Related materials

Hubblesite press release: "Nearby Massive Star Cluster Yields Insights into Early Universe"

Amazing Space resources by topic: Galaxies