Tonights View of the Sky – October 16th – Part 2
In theÂ first part of thisÂ seriesÂ I described that my goal for that nights viewing was to try and spot Mirphak (Aplha Persei), Algenib (Gamma Persei) and Miram (Eta Persei). I managed to find them and got some good photos. It was when I was examining these photos that I noticed some other interesting features.
The photo below is one that caught my attention in particular.
One cool feature I noticed when I was taken the photo, was that a satellite was crossing the area of sky I was photographing, you can see the streak on the left hand side of the photo.
But what really caught my eye was a small yellow blob about a third of the way up and just off centre. My gut was telling me that this was Andromeda.
It took me a long time comparing this section of the sky against the star charts but I finally managed to find a match. I first identified the 2 stars in the top right Lambda Pegasi and Sadalbari, once I had done that I started joining the dots, it took a while and at times I thought, damn this is not Andromeda Galaxy maybe its Mirach, but after identifying surrounding stars I am confident that I had in fact found the Andromeda Galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy gets its name as it is slap bang in the centre of the Andromeda constellation.
You can see on this zoomed in image the Andromeda Galaxy with the faint spiral around it. The Andromeda galaxy also known as Messier M31Â is a spiral galaxy like the our own Milky Way. It is an unbelievableÂ 2.5 million light years from Earth.
Astronomers believe that there is a black hole at the centre of the Andromeda galaxy and that the bright centre seen in the photos here is caused by groups of stars lingering in orbit, creating a concentration of stars.
Interestingly, the Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way are on a collision course. they are approaching each other at a rate of 140 kilometres per second (400 lightyears every million years). The expected collision is due to happen in about 4.5 billion years, on a Friday :).
Coming up in Part 3
On my journey to find the Andromeda Galaxy I passed by a number of stars in the constellation. I will go through these in detail in Part 3