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Another way to find the Andromeda galaxy

Tonight … November 8, 2015. The Andromeda galaxy is out all night long at this time of year, and on another post we tell you how to use the constellation Cassiopeia to find it. This evening, however, we show you how to locate it by using the Great Square of Pegasus. P

Navaneeth Unnikrishnan in Kerala,India created this wonderful stacked image of the Andromeda galaxy with images taken on November 9, 2014.  Thank you, Navaneeth!

Navaneeth Unnikrishnan created this wonderful stacked image of the Andromeda galaxy with photos taken on November, 2014. Thank you, Navaneeth!

Andromeda galaxy on November evenings. The wonderful Andromeda galaxy! Most distant object we can see with the eye alone.

You can see it at this time of year … simply by looking eastward at nightfall. That’s assuming you’re looking into a dark, moon-free sky that isn’t drowned by city lights. And it’s also assuming you’re in the Northern Hemisphere. The Andromeda galaxy is located rather far to the north on the sky’s dome, and can’t be seen as well (or at all) from the Southern Hemisphere. From Northern Hemisphere latitudes, by mid-evening, this galaxy will climb almost straight overhead, so you might want to enjoy the comfort of a reclining lawn chair for viewing this deep-sky treasure.

This neighboring spiral galaxy appears in our sky as a large hazy patch – bigger than a full moon. It’s very noticeable in a star-filled sky, far from city lights, on a night when the moon is down.

Can’t find it? Look at the chart at the top of this post. One way to find the galaxy is by finding the Great Square in the constellation Pegasus. The Great Square consists of a large square pattern of stars in the east at nightfall. By mid-evening, the Great Square swings way up high in your southern sky.

Extending from the Square, you’ll find two graceful streams of stars – another constellation, Andromeda. I learned to find the Andromeda galaxy by “star-hopping” from the star Alpheratz in Great Square to the two stars marked here – first Mirach, then Mu Andromedae.

An imaginary line drawn through these two stars points to the Andromeda galaxy. If you can’t see the Andromeda galaxy with the unaided eye, try binoculars.

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John Ashley captured this Taurid meteor on November 2, from the shore of Lake Koocanusa in northwestern Montana. He wrote:

John Ashley wrote: “The Andromeda galaxy (top right) watches from above the roiling clouds that partially veiled northern lights (bottom left) and meteors streaking across our own Milky Way galaxy. Photo captured on November 2, 2015 – by John Ashley – from the shore of Lake Koocanusa in northwestern Montana. Visit John Ashley Fine Art Photography.

Bottom line: How to use the Great Square of Pegasus to find the Andromeda galaxy. How to see the moon and star Spica – and the morning planets – in the east before dawn on Monday, November 9, 2015.

More about M31: Great galaxy in Andromeda

November 2016 guide to the five visible planets

Deborah Byrd