Friday, 11 October 2013

Object of the Month: Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31)

The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest large galaxy to our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is 2.5 million light-years away from us (and closing, as it is projected to collide with us in about 4 billion years time). It is the brightest messier object in the sky, and due to it's size and close distance compared to other galaxies, also appears very large. Although our eyes are not sensitive enough to see the full extent of it, it actually appears 6 times larger than a full moon.
A colour image of Messier 32, Cluster Cam
As a result of its large size, it is best viewed through cluster camera (although it should even be visible on constellation). Colour or clear filters both work fine.

A filterless image of M32, Cluster Cam

You will also be able to see some of the satellite galaxies of Andromeda. These are similar to the Magellanic Clouds associated with our own galaxy. Below and right in the above pictures, you can see Messier 110. You may also be able to make out the fuzzy ball of Messier 32, directly above the core.

Using Galaxy Camera will give you a close up image of the core of the galaxy and some of the dust lanes. You could also try using Galaxy Cam to get detailed images of the satellite galaxies.

A view of the core with Galaxy Cam
Field of view of Galaxy Cam vs Cluster

Top Tips
  • As it's quite bright, compared to other galaxies, around 90000ms exposure is more than enough.
  • Try using different cameras for different fields of view.
  • Use the BVR or Clear filters on any camera. (Narrow-band filters on Galaxy Cam don't get you anything special)

Leave a comment below or post on the forums with a link to your fabulous gallery picture of Messier 31!