Magellanic Clouds

Magellanic Clouds, three irregularly shaped galaxies that lie some 150,000 to 200,000 light-years from earth. They are visible from the Southern Hemisphere, and appear to the unaided eye as two separate patches of light—the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud in the early 1980's revealed that it consists of two galaxies lying along the same line of sight. The Magellanic Clouds are the closest known galaxies to the Milky Way galaxy and move in orbits around it.