Andromeda Galaxy shines as summer makes way for autumn

Sep 8, 2021, 2:00 PM
(NASA Photo)...
(NASA Photo)
(NASA Photo)

As summer moves on to fall, there is a series of amazing objects to ponder and view in a basic pair of binoculars.

The best way to help locate many of these objects, is to take advantage of the free download at the end of this column. There, you will find an excellent monthly star chart and calendar of monthly sky events.

Let’s begin with a most amazing object for your observation schedule.

High in the northeastern sky at 8 p.m. Arizona time is the constellation of Pegasus, the winged horse. Just to the left and attached to Pegasus we come to the ancient constellation of Andromeda.

In mythology, Andromeda is the daughter of Cassiopeia and her husband Cepheus.

Her constellation is made up of a string of a few bright stars and is easy to find in even the most light polluted of skies.

Deep within the constellation of Andromeda we come to a most interesting object – the great Andromeda Galaxy, or M31 and to some, NGC 224.

Amazing as this may sound, the Andromeda Galaxy checks in at a visual magnitude of plus 3.4. This is relatively bright by astronomy standards.

What makes the galaxy even more interesting is that its total relative size in the night sky is at least the same size as a full moon! That around 30 minutes of arc, a half a degree in the night sky.

Here is a basic star chart to help you locate the elusive Andromeda Galaxy.

Now the fun begins:

As you first notice the hazy object in binoculars, note that the first recorded observation of this galaxy was made by the Persian astronomer al-Sufi in 964 A.D. He described the object as a “nebulous smear” with the naked eye.

That being said, the Andromeda Galaxy is a distinct galaxy at the amazing distance of 2.5 million light years from your eye.

In your time tunnel, the first homo habilis species of humans first appeared on Earth.

This is the most distant object that the average person may see in a lifetime.

With over 1 trillion stars, the Andromeda Galaxy is about the same size as our Milky Way Galaxy and has a similar shape.

For those with telescopes of at least 8 inches in diameter or better, here is a detailed star field of the great Andromeda Galaxy.

An even deeper view of the star cloud in the Andromeda Galaxy.

The Andromeda Galaxy makes for a most interesting object to view in our preautumn skies in Arizona.

Do it soon, as the Andromeda Galaxy will collide with our Milky Way in about 4 billion years and will create a new galaxy out of the collision.

Remember, nothing lasts forever.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

Dr. Sky Blog

SOFIA soars over the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains with its telescope door open during a tes...
Steve Kates

Details about the amazing airborne telescope SOFIA

Flying above most of the atmosphere to capture images of faint celestial objects is one of the great technological achievements of science and so it is with the NASA/SOFIA Science Center’s specially modified 747SP aircraft.
6 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Grab your binoculars to take a peek at nova in Arizona skies

In the most basic of all explanations, a nova is a star that reaches a critical mass, collapses under the pressure of gravity and then explodes.
13 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

With monsoon out of the way, October skies offer up amazing sights

October 2021 brings about some of the best that the night sky can offer up.
20 days ago
From left: Scott Bolton and Rick Nybakken during a briefing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory i...
Steve Kates

Jupiter and its moons will fill the eyes of starwatchers in October

Jupiter, the king of the planets, is the dominant planet in our October skies and it's easy to spot high in the southeastern sky at sunset.
27 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Change of seasons pulls cold, blue elusive Neptune into view

September and October bring us some clear and cooler nights - just what the doctor ordered to view some amazing objects, like Neptune.
1 month ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Steve Kates

September skies bring autumn’s harvest moon to light

We bring you some exciting news about a most amazing moon known as the harvest moon.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles


How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.
Andromeda Galaxy shines as summer makes way for autumn