The bright star in this image is Beta Andromedae, whose proper name is Mirach. Look more closely, and you’ll also see Mirach’s Ghost, a round, faint, fuzzy galaxy in the upper right of the photo.
This galaxy is also called NGC 404. It happens to lie nearly along our line-of-sight to the star Mirach, which is a relatively bright star and makes photographs like this one a challenge. This beautiful image is by Anthony Ayiomamitis at perseus.gr.. It was the Astronomy Picture of the Day on October 28, 2010.
Mirach can guide you to two other galaxies, too, the Great Galaxy in the constellation Andromeda and the face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum. Read about Mirach as a guide to three galaxies.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.