This is one of the most spectacular areas of the southern sky, around the lair of the Tarantula Nebula.
I shot this close up of the Large Magellanic Cloud last night, December 10, 2012 to frame the most interesting part of the LMC, the massive Tarantula Nebula. This star-forming region is much larger than any in our Milky Way, yet exists in a small dwarf galaxy that is a satellite of our Milky Way. But tidal forces from our Milky Way are torturing the Magellanic Clouds and stirring up massive amounts of star formation. If the Tarantula were as close to us as is the Orion Nebula some 1500 light years from us, the Tarantula would cover 30° of sky and cast shadows at night. Good thing perhaps that the wicked Tarantula is 160,000 light years away.
I shot this with my 105mm apo refractor. It’s a stack of 5 x 12 minute guided exposures, using the filter-modified Canon 5D MkII camera.
This is a wonderful region of sky to explore with any telescope. I had a great look at it through my 10-inch Dobsonian reflector last night. Well worth the trip to the southern hemisphere to see!
– Alan, December 11, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer