DR. SKY BLOG

Triangulum constellation is small but worth looking for in November skies

Nov 10, 2021, 2:30 PM
(Hubble Space Telescope Photo)...
(Hubble Space Telescope Photo)
(Hubble Space Telescope Photo)

The month of November opens up with clear skies, little moonlight and the promise of some really interesting objects to view in our Arizona skies.

In past columns, I have suggested that you look to the northeastern sky after sunset for the amazing and massive galaxy known as the Andromeda Galaxy or M31.

I do hope that you had the chance to at least view this massive galaxy in binoculars or a telescope.

While there is plenty of time to find the Andromeda Galaxy, we now turn our attention to another massive star system, one which is even father away than the great distance of 2.4 million light years for Andromeda.

Just below the constellation of Andromeda, lies the small but interesting constellation of Triangulum, the triangle.

With only 132 square degrees of sky and the 78th constellation in total size, Triangulum is noted for the three bright stars that make it up.

Here is what the Triangulum looks like on a star chart.

Within a few degrees of the bright star Alpha Trianguli we come to one of the most amazing sky objects in the fall skies. This is the massive galaxy known as M33 or the Triangulum Galaxy.

While rather faint, at visual magnitude plus 5.72 is at the near limit of naked eye visibility. The galaxy is one of the most distant objects you can see with binoculars or even under moonless skies.

Here is a great image of the galaxy.

The galaxy may have well over 40 billion stars and is located at the incredible distance of some 2.7 to 3.7 million light years from Earth.

Discovered back in 1654 by Italian astronomers, the galaxy is often referred to as the great “Pinwheel Galaxy” due to its nearly top view from Earth.

Here is a way to help locate the great Triangulum Galaxy.

Our Milky Way Galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy are all part of a larger group of galaxies known as the Local Group.

Here are the details on the Local Group.

Look at these galaxies while you can as the Andromeda Galaxy will collide with our Milky Way and collide with the Triangulum Galaxy in a few billion years.

Here is that event in a simple image.

The best skies await us in November, so try looking for the galaxy when the moon is not a factor. The best opportunity would be from Nov. 1-10 nd then from Nov. 25-30.

Next week, we will discuss the details of the longest near total lunar eclipse of the century that takes place for us on the morning of Nov. 19.

Stay tuned!

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.

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Triangulum constellation is small but worth looking for in November skies