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View from a Scope | July 25, 2021

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The Hunt for Triangulum

The Hunt for Triangulum

After the disappointment the previous night of being clouded out of the orionids meteor shower (my best effort is below).


I was glad to a see a clear night tonight. I used this opportunity to see if I could spot the Triangulum Galaxy.

Over the last few weeks I have gotten to recognise some of the constellations and have a fair idea of where about in the sky they are. This has helped to star hop from stars I know to the location I want to go to. In this case Triangulum.

When looking at the star charts I noticed that Triangulum is sandwiched between two sets of stars from previous viewings. Mirach and Hamal.

Anchor Points

For me the the trio of stars Hamal, Sheratan and Mesarthim have become my starting point in the sky when looking east. They start of low in the sky at this time of year but by about 22:00 or 23:00 they should be easily seen.

Once I got my bearings with these guys, I identified Hamal the left most star in the group. I knew that almost in a straight line above Hamal should be another bright star, Mirach which is part of the Andromeda constellation.

Having found these two anchor points in the sky and after checking the star chart, Triangulum should be located somewhere in the middle. I soon identified the triangle of stars (oh I get it Triangulum = triangle) which makes up the constellation of Triangulum, Beta Trianguli, Gamma Trianguli and Elmuthalleth.


How Could I Miss a Galaxy?

According to the charts Triangulum Galaxy should have been located just off Elmuthalleth and on the line between Hamal and Mirach. To be honest I could see nothing even with binoculars. The long exposure photo below doesn’t show anything either (I thought I saw a smudge there but its a long shot to call that a Galaxy).

In fairness this Galaxy is 3 million light years away and is the furthest object you can see with the naked eye. It is used a barometer to determine how good a site is for stargazing. Where I am is next door to the middle of no-where but with the moon shine last night it was probably to bright to see it. I’ll get you next time Triangulum, NEXT TIME.

Elmuthalleth (Alpha Trianguli)

This is a binary star system and is located 63.3 light years from Earth. the system is 1.6 billion years old, compared to our Sun which is 4.5 billion years old. The primary star in this system is about 3 times the size of the Sun.

Beta Trianguli

This is the brightest star in the constellation. The star is a sub-giant star but it is about to give up core hydrogen fusion, which will lead it to become a red giant.

It is 124 light years from Earth and is 71 times brighter than the Sun. This is also a binary system with a small companion star orbiting very close (about 3/4 the distance between Mercury and the Sun) as the star grows into a Red giant it will engulf this companion star (which would be pretty cool to see).

Gamma Trianguli

This star is 112 light years from Earth and is a baby at only 300 million years old. However it is still 33 times brighter than the Sun and rotates very fast. This gives it an oblong shape similar to Altair.




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