Stargazing: The Andromeda Galaxy

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This weekend, when the moon rises late, try to locate M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. Andromeda is the most distant object in space visible to the unaided eye. When you observe M31, you are looking at the light of billions of stars more than 2 million light-years away.

To locate Andromeda, find four stars that outline the "Great Square" of Pegasus, angled like a large diamond as it rises in 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. However, don't be disappointed if you cannot see the spiral arms of the galaxy. Very large telescopes produce the pictures of Andromeda you see in magazines and books.

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First Published October 20, 2013 8:00 PM


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