Before the moon rises this week, try to locate M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. Andromeda is the most distant object in space visible to the unaided eye. When you observe this celestial gem, you are looking at the light of billions of stars more than 2 million light years away.
To locate Andromeda, first find four stars that outline the "Great Square" of Pegasus, angled like a large diamond halfway up the eastern sky. The star in the upper left corner of Pegasus is Alpheratz. This star is also part of the Andromeda constellation, where you will see two long rows of stars. Move two stars over on the top row then up and you will see a smudge of light. That hazy smudge is the Andromeda Galaxy. If you aim your binoculars or telescope at Andromeda, you should see the galaxy's oval shape.
Don't forget to look at dazzling bright Jupiter this week. Our "evening star" sits about 25 degrees above the eastern horizon at 7 p.m.
-- By Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium and Observatoryscience - bookclub