Andromeda galaxy is our closet neighbor. One might say we might even be roommates in 4.5 billion years. This is one of the most popular targets for astrophotography due to its huge size (about 5° across the sky) and the relatively bright nature of it as well. Under good clear seeing conditions, Andromeda can be seen with the naked eye and can be seen very clearly with the use of binoculars. At 2.93 million light-years away, this is the furthest object our eyes can see. Even with a small 6-inch dob, one can see the dust lanes which is sure to bring a smile.
In the early days of astronomy, Andromeda Galaxy was known as the Great Nebula, as the idea of galaxies were not a present at the time. There were great debates that were eventually settled by Edwin Hubble in 1925 using science that I do not understand.
Along with M31 are the dwarf elliptical galaxies M32 and M110. M31 is part of our local group of galaxies, which include our own Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds and the Triangulum Galaxy.
My first attempt at M31 was a total failure, I did not know how tracking worked and I had clear visible star trails. This was the first time I hooked up a camera to a telescope. I did not know about auto guiders and acquisition software.
I have so much more to learn and I'm going to try to capture Andromeda with any new chances I get.
Here you can see what happens when you try to take long exposres unguided with bad polar alignment.
My second attempt was also a failure, but it's better. However, I did not achieve focus, so I have fat round blurry stars. I did get enough exposure to see the dust lanes. The picture above was this attempt.
Next time the conditions are ideal, this is the target I want to focus on again to get better data.
Here you can see the area of the sky in Andromeda imaged.
- Telescope: Orion ShortTube 80mm f/5
- Camera: Canon T4i
- Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G
- Software: Pixinsight
- Other Accessories: AstroZap Dew Heater
- Exposure Time: 30 minutes (30 X 60 seconds)
- Exposure Start: 01:44 AM
- Date: June 29, 2014
- Location: Cherry Springs, Pennsylvania, United States
- GPS Coordinates: Lat. 41.66384, Long. -77.82321
- Temperature: 66°F/19°C
- Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 2.00
- Avg. Moon age: 1.97 days
- Avg. Moon phase: 4.34%
- RA center: 0h 41' 15"
- DEC center: +41° 14' 52"
- Orientation: 237.176 degrees
- Field radius: 1.907 degrees
- Magnitude: 3.4
- Resolution: 3124x 2085