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Large Magellanic Cloud

Large Magellanic Cloud, LMC: named after the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, whose expedition first circumnavigated the globe between 1519 and 1522


The LMC has traditionally been classified as an irregular galaxy. However, new evidence points to it being a barred spiral galaxy. The LMC is a much smaller companion of our Milky Way Galaxy and is gravitationally bound to it. It is the largest of the small galaxies that orbit the Milky Way. One of only three galaxies visible to the unaided eye, the LMC 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 Dorado in the Southern Hemisphere.

Distance from Earth

160,000 light-years


The visible portion of the galaxy is 17,000 light-years across.

Astronomers may have been wrong about the Large Magellanic Cloud's shape.

Enlarge Image


"Fast Facts: Large 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: "Hubble Photographs 'Double Bubble' in Neighboring Galaxy"

Amazing Space resources by topic: Galaxies