Two Views of the Wondrous Andromeda Galaxy

October 07, 2022


Photographer: Greg Parker  
Summary Authors: Greg Parker; Jim Foster

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is considered the most distant object that we can detect with the unaided eye. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere and have never seen a galaxy, other than our Milky Way, you owe it to yourself to venture into the countryside on a clear, moonless autumn evening and look to the northeast. Between the stars is the asterism of the Square of Pegasus and the constellation of Perseus, a very faint glow will appear in the constellation of Andromeda. You may need to use averted vision to see it. If you still can’t spot it, grab a pair of binoculars.

Of course, don’t expect to see anything that resembles the remarkable images above, captured from the New Forest Observatory. Nevertheless, just being able to discern this distant smudge (some 2.5 million light years away) is thrilling. The light we see when we gaze at M31 began its path to our eyes about the time that North America and South America were linked by the Isthmus of Panama and around the time our ancestors were starting to stand upright. We can see it with the naked eye not only because it’s relatively close by (one of the Milky Way's nearest galactic neighbors), but because it’s huge -– 220,000 light years across, holding perhaps a trillion stars.

Photo Details:

Top "zoomed out view" - Canon 200 mm prime lens; ASI 2600MC Pro colour CMOS camera.

Bottom: “zoomed in view” - Hyperstar 4 (on a Celestron C11 telescope) image; ASI 2600MC Pro colour CMOS camera.

New Forest Observatory, U.K. Coordinates: 50.819444, -1.59

Related Links:

The Splendid Andromeda Spiral Galaxy