The Seven Best Southern Sky Objects

We are certainly spoilt in the Southern Hemisphere, with some remarkable objects in our sky, mostly unseen by our friends in the North.

Here is my pick of the very best of them, as seen through my Skywatcher Esprit 120 telescope and ZWO ASI071 camera (images 1-5) and Canon DSLR (images 6-7).

1. Eta Carina Nebula

120 arc-minutes in diameter.
Bigger and brighter than the Orion Nebula M42.

Eta Carina Nebula (Caldwell 92, NGC 3372)
Emission Nebula
in Carina
Declination: 60° S
120 minutes exposure
, © R.Powell 2020-02-14

2. Omega Centauri

The biggest and brightest globular cluster in the entire sky.
Contains about ten million stars.

Omega Centauri (NGC 5139, Caldwell 80)
Globular Cluster in Centaurus

Declination: 47° S
15 minutes exposure, © R.Powell 2019-06-22

3. Centaurus A

A peculiar lenticular galaxy, twelve million light years away.
4° from Omega Centauri, possibly two galaxies colliding.

Centaurus A (NGC 5128, Caldwell 77)
Galaxy in Centaurus
Declination: 43° S
120 minutes exposure, © R.Powell 2020-03-20

4. Tarantula Nebula

A colossal emission nebula 160,000 light years away in a nearby galaxy. If it were as close as the Orion Nebula, it would cast shadows.

Tarantula Nebula (Caldwell 103, NGC 2070) upper right
Emission Nebula in LMC in Dorado
Declination: 69° S
106 minutes exposure , © R.Powell 2020-02-19

5. 47-Tucanae

The second biggest globular cluster in the whole sky.
Contains millions of stars.

47-Tucanae (Caldwell 106, NGC 104)
Globular Cluster
in Tucana
Declination: 71° S
51-minutes exposure, © R.Powell 2019-10-01

6. Large Magellanic Cloud

A local satellite galaxy, 14,000 light years across, 163,000 light years away. The fourth largest galaxy in the Local Group.

Large Magellanic Cloud
Nearby galaxy in Dorado
Declination: 70° S
DSLR: 2x60sec © R.Powell 2011-01-29

7. Small Magellanic Cloud

A local satellite galaxy (about 20° from the Large Magellanic Cloud).
7,000 light years across and located 200,000 light years away

Small Magellanic Cloud
Irregular dwarf galaxy in Tucana
Declination: 73° S
DSLR: 10x10sec, 200mm, f/2.8, ISO6400 © R.Powell 2015-08-08


  1. Those are really nice images. Your equipment and skills are top rate. It would take me a long time to get oriented to the southern skies. Looking via planetarium software is challenging.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Technically, part of the handle rises here but in practical terms – no I don’t.
          I do remember studying it with binoculars through aircraft trails when I was last in the UK .


            1. It seems to be in the Eastern sky, which is a very bad aspect for me; and it’s not very high either.
              I doubt if I will see it but I’ll keep an eye out for an opportunity.


  2. Thank you for your list of the greatest hits of the southern sky. It’s great to have them all in one place on your blog. I tried to see some of these when we visited Kenya, but the high clouds for the coming monsoon made extended objects fade into the thin clouds. And I was focusing on not getting a local illness. Wonderful place, wonderful people! Orion overhead made him seem so small.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I recall trying to see Omega Centuri from South Jersey many years ago, in days of lesser light and atmospheric pollution. If memory serves me correctly, by the charts it would have been just barely above the horizon. Needless to say I did not succeed. Great images as usual. Did you hint you once resided in the northern hemisphere? (Orion right side up!). M 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a challenge sometimes to try extremely low objects. I’ve given up trying to catch M76 (alt 4°) although some of my friends have in the past seen it in the eyepiece when light pollution was less restrictive.
      Last year I managed to image some stars and a small patch of nebulosity in the North America Nebula (alt <10°), straight through Sydney’s light dome – but I wouldn’t publish it!
      Yes, I am a North Londoner. I used to study the constellations when walking home from the tube station.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what a great post! I’ve never been to the southern hemisphere, but I can’t wait to get there and see these things. Fantastic photos, too. Thanks for posting this.


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