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. Plus we wanted to point to a close pairing of the moon and star Spica before sunrise on Monday, November 9. And of course the morning planets are still up there, too, still beautiful. Follow the links below to learn more.
Moon, Spica and planets before dawn Monday! The chart above shows you how the moon and star Spica – brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden – look Monday morning before dawn. Look east, the direction of sunrise.
Although the orientation will vary depending on your latitude, the moon and Spica can be seen across Earth now.
And, of course, you’ll also notice the planets that have been so spectacular in the eastern, predawn sky. Late last week, the moon passed near them. The moon is edging out of the predawn sky now. New moon – when the moon is most between the Earth and sun for this month – will come on November 11 at 1747 UTC. Monday morning, if your sky is clear, you’ll see the moon edging toward the sunrise and toward its upcoming encounter with the sun.
And you’ll see the morning planets, as identified on the chart below.
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.
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.