Messier 31, Andromeda Galaxy

M31, Andromeda Galaxy: The Milky Way’s sister galaxy Andromeda has a bright magnitude of 3.44, making it a naked eye object from dark skies. Andromeda is about 2 million light years away and approaching the Milky Way at a rate of around 250,000 miles per hour. Andromeda is much larger than the Milky Way, with a diameter of around 220,000 light years compared to the Milky Way’s 100,000 light year diameter. In addition to being bigger than the Milky Way, Andromeda has many more stars. In fact, Andromeda has approximately 1 trillion stars while the Milky Way has up to 400 billion stars. In around 4 billion years these two colossal galaxies are predicted to collide. We’ll be long gone by then but if you’re concerned for the Sun, don’t worry because galaxies are mostly empty space and the collision between the sun and another star from Andromeda is very unlikely. To find Andromeda, first find the Northern constellation Andromeda. Then find 37 Andromedae and look 3 degrees West of it. Andromeda will be a fuzzy patch in dark skies and the image will only improve in binoculars. Apply a telescope to Andromeda to bring out more detail. In my 5 inch telescope on a full moon, Andromeda appeared as a white disk with a bright core. In dark skies Andromeda will never fail to amaze!

M31, Andromeda Galaxy. Image Credit: Fabian Neyer

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