Magellanic Cloud

Mag·el·lan·ic Cloud

noun \ˌma-jə-ˈla-nik-, chiefly British ˌma-gə-\


:  either of the two small galaxies that appear as conspicuous patches of light near the south celestial pole and are companions to the Milky Way galaxy


Ferdinand Magellan
First Known Use: circa 1686

Magellanic Cloud

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Either of two irregular companion galaxies of the Milky Way Galaxy, named for Ferdinand Magellan, whose crew discovered them during the first voyage around the world. They share a gaseous envelope and lie about 22° apart in the sky near the southern celestial pole (see celestial sphere). They are visible to the unaided eye in the Southern Hemisphere but cannot be seen from northern latitudes. The Large Magellanic Cloud is more than 150,000 light-years from Earth; the Small Magellanic Cloud is roughly 200,000 light-years away. They are excellent laboratories for the study of the formation and evolution of stars.


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