The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is a dwarf galaxy. It has a diameter of about 7,000 light-years and contains several hundred million stars. Some speculate that the SMC was once a barred spiral galaxy that was disrupted by the Milky Way to become somewhat irregular. It contains a central bar structure. At a distance of about 200,000 light-years, it is one of the Milky Way's nearest neighbors. It is also one of the most distant objects that can be seen with the naked eye.
With a mean declination of approximately -73 degrees, it can only be viewed from the Southern Hemisphere and the lower latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. It is located in the constellation of Tucana and appears as a hazy, light patch in the night sky about 3 degrees across. It looks like a detached piece of the Milky Way. Since it has a very low surface brightness, it is best viewed from a dark site away from city lights. It forms a pair with the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), which lies a further 20 degrees to the east. The Small Magellanic Cloud is a member of the Local Group.
Like its larger apparent neighbor, the LMCloud, the SMC was certainly known to the ancient southerners, and was probably mentioned by Amerigo Vespucci in a letter written during his third voyage about 1503-4, but became known to us only when Magellan went on his journey around the world, in 1519. The main body of the Small Magellanic Cloud has been assigned NGC292 in Dreyer's catalog, which is now sometimes used for this galaxy. In addition, many clusters and nebulae which are members of this galaxy have been given their own NGC numbers.
Image taken with a Canon EOS 20Da camera and a Canon EF 85mmm f/1.2 L lens. Exposure time is 145 minutes ! This is a very deep and real image, so the "noise" in background is no noise, these are very very dim stars again. The image is not overprocessed and sharp. See the spikes on the very bright stars.