Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A galaxy far, far away....

While looking for Comet Catalina last night, I noticed that the Andromeda Galaxy, M31, was favourably placed for a photo or two. I don't have an equatorial mount with a slow-motion drive, so had to compromise between high ISO and short exposure (grainy with lots of false colour) and lower ISO and longer exposure producing a 'trailed' image caused by the Earth's rotation.

Amazingly I achieved a few reasonable images, albeit with some trailing. What's amazing is just how big M31 is in the sky: larger than a full Moon! It's just very faint, so to the naked eye it's just like a fuzzy star. Well worth looking for with binoculars or a telescope: it's the most distant object (2.5 million light years!) that's visible with the naked eye.

To find it, just locate the 'W' shaped constellation Cassiopeia: it's in the north west at around 10pm at the moment. Follow the left-hand arm of the W down to the north and M31 is around a hand's width away.




 

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