Magellanic Mountain


Flanked by satellite galaxies of the Milky Way a volcanic peak rises from this rugged horizon. The southern night skyscape looks toward the south over Laguna Lejia and the altiplano of the Antofagasta Region of northern Chile. Extending the view across extragalactic space, the Large (right) and Small Magellanic Clouds are so named for the 16th century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, leader of planet Earth’s first circumnavigation. The larger cloud lies some 180,000 light-years, and the smaller 210,000 light-years beyond the mountaintop. Left of the Small Cloud of Magellan and also reflected in the foreground watery shallows on that starry night, 47 Tucanae shines like a bright star. A globular star cluster that roams the halo of the Milky Way, 47 Tucanae is about 13,000 light-years away.

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