Between Two Skies

Image title: Between Two Skies
Author: Fabrizio Melandri
Country: Italy

Taken from Narrabri, Australia, in April 2014, this photograph shows a meteor next to the Large Magellanic Cloud and the reflection of all this in the water.

The Magellanic Clouds are named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who made the first maps of the southern part of South America in the early 16th century but did not survive his expedition voyage. His shipmates called the two nebulae after him, and it was only in the 20th century that astronomy research discovered that they are in fact dwarf galaxies accompanying our own.

In the 18th century, the French mathematician J-N. Lacaille, who lived in South Africa for some years in order to draw maps of the sky and the land, invented some new constellations. He measured the positions of some faint stars and listed them in his star catalogue, but did not try to overlay beautiful drawings of real-world objects on the star patterns, so he could name them however he wanted. He was based in the trade station that is now the city of Cape Town and, from this bay, Table Mountain is visible. Lacaille learned from the navigators that they used the clouds around this mountain to predict whether or not the wind would blow in the correct direction and allow for sailing. Normally, there is a huge white cloud at the top of Table Mountain, so Lacaille considered the larger one of the two dwarf galaxies not a “Magellanic Cloud”, but the cloud at Table Mountain. Consequently, he invented the constellation “Mensa”, Table Mountain, in the small area of faint stars directly attached to this dwarf galaxy.

Also see image in Zenodo:



 Fabrizio Melandri/IAU OAE

About the Image

Release date:
15 December 2022, 12:00
Related announcements:
2464 x 1632 px
Image Use

About the Object

Milky Way : Sky Phenomenon : Night Sky : Trail : Meteor

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