Can I see the Magellanic Clouds from the Northern Hemisphere?

Is it possible to catch the Southern Hemisphere’s Magellanic Clouds at the furthest northern latitude?

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The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds only touch the horizon for a few minutes at the furthest northern latitude

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds only touch the horizon for a few minutes at the furthest northern latitude

Asked by Lucy Bennett

The Magellanic Clouds – comprising of both the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds are irregular galaxies that are most easily viewed from the Southern hemisphere of Earth.

The LMC and SMC are at a declination of around -70 degrees but the farthest northern latitude from which you would be able to see them would be at around 20 degrees. However, since the stars and the many objects that dot the night sky move around in circles around a celestial pole due to Earth’s rotation, a night sky object at -70 degrees – even if you were at 20 degrees north – would only just touch the horizon for a few minutes before setting again.

If you stood on the Earth’s equator, the Magellanic Clouds might be visible for a few hours, but it would only be during certain times of the year.

Image Credit: ESO

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