Andromeda Galaxy

From Scope F70076

Sep 23, 2008 There was some slight cloud cover in the lower part of the sky, maybe 20 stars were visible in the eastern part of the sky. I saw Cassiopeia, except a star in the one end of it. The five brightest stars in Cassiopeia form a W shape in the sky. In fact, four of them are brighter, and of almost equal brightness, thus what I actually saw was not the W shape but a triangle with the fourth star as an extension of its base, something like a triangular-shape dipper. The bigger triangle in that W points to Mirach, one of the brightest stars in the constellation Andromeda.

Mirach or Beta Andromedae is the first bright (magnitude 2) star in that direction. Mirach is a red giant, which looks like a bright yellow star. Near it (some 0.1 degrees from it) is a magnitute 8 star. As there are not many stars in that area, it was possible to identify Mirach by that nearby star, which located at almost the same distance from Mirach at almost the same angle as on the Stellarium map. Stellarium caused some confusion though, as it showed some red 5.6 magnitude star near Mirach, which I didn't see through the telescope.

I found that this star is also missing in Your Sky map. Your Sky is a public domain star map, which is good to use when you would doubt in something in Stellarium, also it can be used to print star maps for different times of observation, when you would use telescope somewhere where you cannot use a computer.

Using the finder scope, I moved from Mirach to Mu Andromedae, and from there in the same direction to the next bright star, Nu Andromedae. These stars form what is called the girdle of Andromeda. Nu Andromedae has two brigter yellow stars near it, of equal brightness, I saw these two yellow stars and thus verified the location. Andromeda Galaxy (the Messier object M31) is quite near to that star, so I moved in the direction of Andromeda Galaxy and indeed saw it.

It was the best to observe the Andromeda Galaxy with the 12.5mm eyepiece. I saw a faint glow, this glow covered almost 1/4 of the field of view. There seemed to be a bright spot in the center, and the glow became fainter smoothly further from the center. The glow didn't seem to have a completely round shape, it was brighter in some directions. It had no color, the most it seemed to be white. It looked like something deep, and left a feeling that this object is something special.

It seems that such telescope in my conditions doesn't show colors of the Messier objects, it may be that it would show some colors in Orion Nebula, which is the brightest nebula, but in my conditions of light pollution there most likely would not be much colors.

Andromeda Galaxy was likely the most interesting deep sky object which I have ever seen with my telescope. It was the first deep sky object which I have seen that was not just many stars or a gray batch, but was indeed a nebulous glow of light, and of course this was the first galaxy which I have seen through the telescope.

The Andromeda Galaxy was first mentioned by Al-Sufi in 905, who described it as a "little cloud".

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