The Clouds of Magellan – 27th May 2004

Konrad Malin-Smith stepped in at short notice to give us a talk about The Clouds of Magellan, starting with a few slides taken while on holiday in Western Australia, and then moving on to describe the history and significance of observations of these neighbouring galaxies. Because they are near enough for quite small telescopes to resolve into stars, and because they have been systematically observed for over a hundred years, they have been very useful in helping astronomers refine and confirm distance-measuring techniques. The most recent of these was the use of the light echos from the supernova 1987A, and the distance value it produced matched extremely well with distances measured by several other techniques. Through the talk it became apparent that the Magellanic Clouds are fascinating objects, and astronomers still have much to learn through studying them.

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