Visiting and staying in country WA gives you an excellent opportunity to see the Magellanic Clouds, normally made invisible by bright city lights.

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (often abbreviated to LMC and SMC) are galaxies near our own Milky Way Galaxy. From Earth, they look like two faint clouds in the southern night sky, one larger than the other, and form a splendid spectacle. The Magellanic Clouds are only seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

The best time to see the Magellanic Clouds is when they are highest in the night sky and on a new moon when the sky is lovely and dark.

When to look: Here are our top picks for early evening times to see the Magellanic Clouds this year!

  • From 8pm, between 4th 14th January
  • From 8pm, between 3rd 13th February
  • From 7.30pm, between 4th –13th March
  • From 7.30pm, between 2nd – 12th April
  • From 8pm, between 25th September – 6th October
  • From 8pm, between 24th October4th November
  • From 8pm, between 23rd November4th December

Which direction to look: South. Look for two very bright stars (Canopus and Achernar). The Magellanic Clouds appear roughly between these two stars and will look like small fuzzy clouds.

For Telescopes and Binoculars

There’s a lot to see in the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds. Binoculars will bring these two satellite galaxies to life. If you have a telescope, try to find 47 Tucanae or 47 Tuc for short. Its catalogue number is NGC 104. 47 Tuc is a globular cluster of up to half a million stars and is 15,000 light years from Earth. So even though it looks like it could be part of the Small Magellanic Cloud, it’s not. Check out this NASA image…

Something Interesting

The Milky Way is part of a group of galaxies that are all linked together by the pull of gravity, called the Local Group. There are about 54 galaxies in our Local Group. These are mostly dwarf galaxies clustered around the 3 largest – the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy.

The Magellanic Clouds are two of our closest galactic neighbours in the Local Group.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is about 160,000 light years from Earth and the Small Magellanic cloud is a bit further at 200,000 light years away. That’s very close, astronomically speaking!

They are both classified as irregular galaxies. Our bigger Milky Way is exerting gravitational forces that are slowly pulling them out of shape.

These galaxies were named after the Portuguese coloniser Ferdinand Magellan, but they’ve been observed and documented by the world’s first astronomers for millennia before Europeans.

Where's best to see the Magellanic Clouds?

You need a good dark night sky for the best view. Choose an Astrotourism Town destination. Happy stargazing!