The Andromeda Galaxy


Why not try looking at another galaxy? M31, our nearest companion galaxy, is well placed in northern skies, sitting in the East between the W shape of Cassiopeia and the great square of Pegasus.

Under dark skies and away from significant street lighting, you might just be able to see an oval smudge unaided, but pull up a good pair of binoculars and you’ll see much more. A definite central core and perhaps suggestions of surrounding gas and dust lanes.

Although fuzzy and indistinct the appeal of viewing an object like this is the sheer enormity of the distances and time involved. Andromeda is over 2.5 million light years away, and home to billions and billions of stars and companion worlds.

To find it follow the chart below. From the star Mirak in the constellation Andromeda, simply follow a line upwards in the direction of Cassiopeia. As you sweep this area of the sky in binoculars a bright fuzzy patch should glide into view – that’s M31.


Spotting it for the first time can be tricky, so don’t get too frustrated. It might take you a few attempts over several nights.


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