This faint dwarf galaxy called IC 1613 was discovered in 1906 in the constellation of Cetus. It is a member of the Local Group of galaxies and lies just over 2.3 million light-years away. The image, captured with the OmegaCAM camera on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, shows many details of this irregular galaxy containing very little cosmic dust. This property allowed astronomers to use it decades ago to study precisely variable stars such as Cepheid and RR Lyrae, which have the special property that their period of brightening and dimming is linked directly to their intrinsic brightness. By measuring the period, astronomers can derive the actual luminosity of the star and hence – using the observed brightness – its distance. It is thanks to such peculiar stars that the cosmic distance ladder could be constructed. The extension of this ladder deeper and deeper into space with the use of new "standard candles" such as Type Ia supernovae led to the Nobel-prize-winning discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe (CERN Courier November 2011 p5).