The Andromeda galaxy is the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way located at 7.7° northwest of Mirach. This is the only galaxy you can see with bare eyes without any optical aid. However, it appears as a faint misty patch on a moonless night at a short distance from the band of the Milky Way. It is best seen in Autumn in the southern hemisphere but visible throughout the year from the north.
Quick Guide to Observe Andromeda
Select a star chart first before beginning. The Andromeda galaxy can be located in one of two ways: via star-hopping from Cassiopeia or the Great Square. Andromeda is practically always visible from mid-northern latitudes. A 4-inch telescope with 50x magnification is sufficient to display the entirety of Andromeda. By star-hopping from Cassiopeia or the Great Square, locate the Andromeda galaxy. Imagine extending a diagonal to the star Mirach (magnitude +2.1) from the southeast corner to the northeast corner. Turn 90 degrees and move a little northwest after that. You will find Andromeda there.
Before starting make sure to choose a star chart.
Many star charts are available online. You just pick one of them and find Andromeda there to know its location at a specific time. You also can download an astronomy app like Stellarium which is easy and free.
How to find Andromeda?
There are two ways to find the Andromeda galaxy-by star-hopping either from Cassiopeia or from the Great Square.
Find the Andromeda galaxy by star-hopping from Cassiopeia:
- Use this method when the sky is dark enough.
- Look at the north sky and find an M or W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.
- Then identify the brightest star of the constellation star Cassiopeia named Schedar.
- You will get the Andromeda galaxy just there.
Find the Andromeda galaxy by star-hopping from the Great Square:
- Find the Great Square of Pegasus.
- Imagine a diagonal to the northeast corner from the southeast corner, and then extend it to the star Mirach (magnitude +2.1)
- Turn by 90 degrees to head northwest a little bit.
- There you will find Andromeda.
What is the best time to observe Andromeda?
From mid-northern latitudes, Andromeda is visible almost every night of the year. Late July is the perfect time to view Andromeda as it reaches an adequate apparent altitude at a comfortable time by 11 pm. As the night passes, M 31 will start to appear a little higher in the sky.
In Autumn i.e. by September, Andromeda is high enough in the sky just at nightfall and it travels across the sky all night long.
2 Tips to observe Andromeda in the best way.
- Choose the darkest night possible to observe Andromeda and a location away from the city light pollution.
- With a small refractor, it will be hard to observe Andromeda from a wide field of view. You can use a field flattener or reducer to decrease the field of view where Andromeda fits perfectly.
What can you see with Andromeda with a telescope?
- M 31: Look at the dark dust lane of M 31 that runs through the northwest edge of the core. You will find the faint glow from the spiral arms that continues toward another dark lane.
- M 32: M 32 is an elliptical dwarf galaxy that is located 24 arcminutes south of the core of M 31.
- M 110: M 110 is another elliptical galaxy that is known as the gravitationally bound satellite galaxy of M 32. It is located 35 arcminutes northwest of the center of M 31. You will find the M 110 fainter but more elongated than M 32.
- NGC 206: This is a bright star cloud in the Andromeda galaxy with dark dust lanes. It is located at one vertex of the isosceles triangle composed using M 32 and the core of M 31.
- NGC 185: This is a dwarf galaxy. Find Cassiopeia and point 7° north of M 31. There you will find Omicron and NGC is 1° to its west.
- NGC 147: ANother satellite galaxy of M 31 is this dwarf spheroidal galaxy NGC 147. You will find it at 1° west of NGC 185.
What telescope to see Andromeda?
Meade 8″ f/10 LX85 ACF Telescope, Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope, and Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector, and Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope is great telescopes to see Andromeda. A list of telescopes to see Andromeda has more telescope options that can see Andromeda very clearly.
What size telescope to see Andromeda?
Andromeda can be detected with even unaided eyes. A 4-inch telescope will be able to show it as an oval shape with a bright core. With more aperture, you will get better and sharper views.
What magnification is required to see Andromeda?
Start with the least magnification power of your telescope. 50x magnification is enough to show the whole of Andromeda. However, 150x magnification is better to see the details.
Enjoying Andromeda? Here are other things to see with your telescope.
Your telescope can show thousands of galaxies including our own Milky Way. Viewing Andromeda galaxy Through A Telescope will guide you in locating and observing Andromeda. The night sky is full of gems. Planets of our solar system, craters of the moon, and rings of Saturn all are visible through a small telescope. Thousands of star clusters and nebulae can be clearly observed. Going through a List of things to see with a telescope provides a shortlist of other observable night sky objects and guidelines on how to observe them.