Sunday, October 7, 2012

Andromeda Galaxy: The Furthest Thing from Earth that can be Seen with the Naked Eye.


The Andromeda Galaxy is roughly 2.9 million light years from our planet. To view the Andromeda Galaxy, you first must locate it within the boundaries of the constellation Andromeda. With a pair of binoculars, the Andromeda Galaxy shows up as a hazy, oval patch of light.


How to Use the Big Dipper to Spot Andromeda

  • 1
    Locate the Big Dipper in the sky, then follow the handle down to the opposite side. There are two stars that form the side of the bowl.
  • 2
    Polaris is the brightest star in the sky.
    Follow the two stars on the edge of the bowl until you reach Polaris, or the Northern Star, which is the brightest star in the sky.
  • Use Polaris as a guideline, and continue on in the same direction until you reach Cassiopeia, the W-shaped constellation.
  • 4
    Follow the bottom-right star of Cassiopeia's W until you reach The Square of Pegasus.
  • 5
    Look between Cassiopeia and The Square of Pegasus to spot the Andromeda galaxy and constellation.
    Using Binoculars to spot Andromeda
     1
  • Wait until a clear and moonless early-autumn night. Late September or early October is prime-viewing time for Andromeda and the galaxy that it contains. Dress against the chill and venture out at about ten at night.
  • 2
    Use the Great Square of Pegasus to identify Andromeda. The Great Square is an asterism--a group of stars that forms a shape--and it cannot be mistaken in the eastern sky in northern latitudes. It rises in the eastern sky and Andromeda "shares" a star with it on the upper left-hand side of the square. The constellation Andromeda consists of two lines of stars that grow out from the corner of Pegasus. Andromeda the constellation has few bright stars; the galaxy is inside the two lines that go out like the letter “V."
  • 3
    Count out two bright stars from the one that both constellations share on the corner of the Great Square. You will be working down the lower of the two lines of stars that make up Andromeda. When you get to the second of these stars look up, but only a short distance. You will see two dimmer stars. The Andromeda Galaxy is right above them.
  • 4
    Find Cassiopeia if you are still having trouble. It is a little bit above Andromeda and shaped like a “W.” The right side of the W points downwards toward the galaxy, but not directly at it. Hold your thumb and index finger about three inches apart and hold them up in front of you with the index finger “on” the point of the right side of the W. The area where the Andromeda Galaxy is in will be where your thumb is.
  • 5
    Sweep this area with your binoculars. Go slowly so that you will not miss anything. Make sure your eyes have adjusted to the dark. When you do get the Andromeda Galaxy in your view, you will not mistake it for a star. However, you will probably pass by it a few times before being able to fixate on it exactly. Binoculars are better suited for finding the galaxy than a telescope, as they can be held up to your eyes and are easier to scan a region of the sky with. The Andromeda Galaxy will appear as a fuzzy spiral patch. Realizing that through binoculars it will not be defined as in the beautiful pictures of Andromeda that are out there.



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