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Finding Andromeda

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#1 kfrank2380

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:08 AM

I'm having a heck of a time finding the Andromeda galaxy. I live in NC. I have a 8" 1200mm scope, I'm finding Cassiopeia in my finder scope and checking to the right with my 25mm in various places but I can't seem to find it. I'm not sure if light pollution is the issue or I'm just not looking in the right spot. I keep going right of Cass and run into the bottom left star of Andromeda. Everything in between that and Cass is just tiny stars. I've found some bright ones in between but I think they are parts of the Andromeda constellation.


Edited by kfrank2380, 19 September 2019 - 08:09 AM.


#2 aeajr

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:13 AM

How dark is your sky and the ground around you? I had the same problem when I started. Turned out I was on it but did not realize it. It was a faint smudge from my home location.

Light Pollution
https://telescopicwa...ight-pollution/

Edited by aeajr, 19 September 2019 - 08:15 AM.


#3 mashirts

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:18 AM

Do you have a pair of binoculars. If it can be viewed in a telescope with light pollution it can be viewed as well with binoculars. (Actually, paradoxically, it will be a tad brighter in a pair of binoculars) You can get a better idea exactly where it is in the sky with the bios and then switch to you telescope.

Also paradoxically it should actually be a tad brighter (though smaller) in you finder scope. With your finder scope offering a wider view it will be easier to spot. It will just be a smudge in the view of your finder scope. Make sure your eyes are dark adapted.

Welcome to the forum and welcome to this wonderful hobby!
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#4 RyanSem

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:25 AM

Spotting Andromeda in the finder might be a bit of a challenge if you're expecting it to pop out immediately. While it can be a naked eye object from a dark site, I'm guessing your viewing site it's only going to be a faint smudge.

 

I've found that instead of hopping from Cassiopeia, there are easier stars to follow if you start in the Andromeda constellation itself. Find the long line that makes up Andromeda's body, and the one in the middle is the double star Mirach. From Mirach there are two stars that go perpendicular to the rest of the constellation and noticeably drop off in magnitude. μ And then v And. Hop up to μ then hop up a little more to v, and then the Andromeda Galaxy should be within your finder scope. 


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#5 kfrank2380

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:25 AM

How dark is your sky and the ground around you? I had the same problem when I started. Turned out I was on it but did not realize it. It was a faint smudge from my home location.

Light Pollution
https://telescopicwa...light-pollution

Is there something I can see that will give me a clue on how dark the sky is? I can see the full constellation of Cassiopeia. I could not see hardly any of the Andromeda constellation just one star of it. The main issue I have is a street light right across the street from my viewing location. Unfortunately there's nothing I can really do about it. I'm using the scope on my driveway which is at a 45 degree angle. There is bad light pollution the direction where Andromeda is.  When I look through the scope I can see stars I can't see otherwise with the naked eye. I know that's kind of a stupid obvious thing to say but my point is the stars are clear without any weird tint or sign any outside light would be affecting vision. 



#6 Mountaineer370

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:35 AM

Ryan Sem was posting at the same time I was typing, and has basically the same advice.  Here is what I was going to say:

 

I know many people use Cassiopeia to find the Andromeda Galaxy.  I have better luck using the constellation Andromeda.  I start with the star Alpheratz in Pegasus.  If you're facing east, it is the lower left star of the Great Square.  Then I hop down the lower line of that long "V" of Andromeda to what appears to me to be the second star of that leg, Mirach.  From there, I go straight up two more stars, and M31 will be a fuzzy blob right above it.

 

Can you find the Great Square of Pegasus?  Can you possibly move your telescope to a location not obstructed by the street light?  Maybe a nearby park?  If you can see Cassiopeia with no problem, you should be able to make out the Great Square, and while the stars of Andromeda are faint, with some practice, hopefully, you will learn where they are.  Sometimes, when we learn to recognize the general shape of a constellation, it's easier to spot even if the stars are faint.  It takes time.  Don't give up.

 

And, yes, even in your scope, with your skies, the Andromeda Galaxy will be a small, faint, fuzzy blob.  We were out last night in our semi-rural skies with an 8" SCT, and while I found it easily because I've seen it many, many times, my observing companion had a hard time seeing it until I reminded him it was very small and faint, not what many people might be expecting.


Edited by Mountaineer370, 19 September 2019 - 08:37 AM.

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#7 mashirts

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:36 AM

Andromeda will be brighter when it is higher in the sky and that does not occur until about midnight right now. At that time the moon is currently out and very bright and is contributing to washing out the views of faint objects. Wait about 4 or 5 days till the moon comes out later (even better to wait till the new moon) And look after midnight or later.

Andromeda will be continually be in a better position to view earlier in the evening as the earth positions in the fall and winter. The weather gets cooler and drier and transparency will improve as well.
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#8 RyanSem

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:38 AM

Is there something I can see that will give me a clue on how dark the sky is? I can see the full constellation of Cassiopeia. I could not see hardly any of the Andromeda constellation just one star of it. The main issue I have is a street light right across the street from my viewing location. Unfortunately there's nothing I can really do about it. I'm using the scope on my driveway which is at a 45 degree angle. There is bad light pollution the direction where Andromeda is.  When I look through the scope I can see stars I can't see otherwise with the naked eye. I know that's kind of a stupid obvious thing to say but my point is the stars are clear without any weird tint or sign any outside light would be affecting vision. 

One of the reasons for this might be that Andromeda is lower on the horizon than Cassiopeia at the moment. Once it hits midnight or so, it will be high enough that it should be reasonably bright as well. But you're right, I think in general Cas is a brighter constellation than And.

 

Maybe this picture can help. It shows the two ways I learned how to find Andromeda. In yellow is the first way. Make a box with the top 3 stars of Cassiopeia, then take the diameter and go in the direction it points twice. M31 should be in the area. This isn't a bad way to find the galaxy, but as you can see it's not entirely accurate. That's why I like the other method more, because instead of leaving you with a little bit of a search, following stars up from Mirach puts you smack dab on top of M31, and actually following stars, not just eye-balling an arbitrary length.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Star Hop to M31.jpg

Edited by RyanSem, 19 September 2019 - 08:40 AM.

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#9 mashirts

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:44 AM

Download Stellarium or another star finding ap on your smart phone.
Here is a screen shot of andromeda location tonight at midnight at my location in Texas:

Attached Thumbnails

  • Screenshot_2019-09-19-08-25-00-1.png

Edited by mashirts, 19 September 2019 - 08:44 AM.

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#10 APR28

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 08:54 AM

I'm a super amateur. I found Andromeda the first night with a pair of Gosky 10x42 binoculars. It looked like a faint smudge in a fairly light polluted suburbia.

I'm waiting on my Celestron XLT 102 for 2 weeks now. I'm getting so impatient that I almost ordered a Zhumell Z130 to pass the time
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#11 kfrank2380

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:01 AM

One of the reasons for this might be that Andromeda is lower on the horizon than Cassiopeia at the moment. Once it hits midnight or so, it will be high enough that it should be reasonably bright as well. But you're right, I think in general Cas is a brighter constellation than And.

 

Maybe this picture can help. It shows the two ways I learned how to find Andromeda. In yellow is the first way. Make a box with the top 3 stars of Cassiopeia, then take the diameter and go in the direction it points twice. M31 should be in the area. This isn't a bad way to find the galaxy, but as you can see it's not entirely accurate. That's why I like the other method more, because instead of leaving you with a little bit of a search, following stars up from Mirach puts you smack dab on top of M31, and actually following stars, not just eye-balling an arbitrary length.

I think Mirach is the star I  kept running into I did see the star above it but it looks like I didn't go high enough after that. I started going left instead of up. I probably passed the galaxy several times while scanning. The hard part about moving my dob is it's a little tight moving certain directions. It's easy to over correct by half an inch or so. I'm still figuring how to maneuver the mount properly while scanning.


Edited by kfrank2380, 19 September 2019 - 09:02 AM.


#12 treadmarks

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:13 AM

Is there something I can see that will give me a clue on how dark the sky is? I can see the full constellation of Cassiopeia. I could not see hardly any of the Andromeda constellation just one star of it. The main issue I have is a street light right across the street from my viewing location. Unfortunately there's nothing I can really do about it. I'm using the scope on my driveway which is at a 45 degree angle. There is bad light pollution the direction where Andromeda is.  When I look through the scope I can see stars I can't see otherwise with the naked eye. I know that's kind of a stupid obvious thing to say but my point is the stars are clear without any weird tint or sign any outside light would be affecting vision. 

Any sort of light glaring into your eye will ruin your ability to see anything. Your eyes probably never even adapt to the dark. If you do something about light glare you will be able to see Andromeda, both the constellation and the galaxy, and a whole lot more.



#13 bumm

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:21 AM

It sounds like you're dealing with pretty severe light pollution, and galaxies suffer badly from that.  Also, it's a long hop from cassiopeia to the Andromeda Galaxy.  And also, the Andromeda Galaxy is BIG.  It can be hard to see in a telescope because it's running off the field on all sides.  Like others have suggested, I'd try first looking for it in binoculars.  It will be an oval patch of sky not as dark as the sky around it.  If you can make it to a darker site sometime, it will be MUCH easier.  Hang in there...  The start of this trip can be a bit bumpy, but it's worth the ride.  )

                                                    Marty


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#14 wrnchhead

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:23 AM

+1 on Ryan's star hop. Also, you may have to temper your expectations. With my 8" 1200 from my moderately polluted back yard, all I can ever see is the core as a brightened smudge. 


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#15 bobito

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:26 AM

With a 25mm (I'm assuming Plossl) your FOV is 1 degree.  Andromeda is over 3 degrees wide but only the core is easily visible with light pollution.  So you could go right over the side of it and not notice, you need to be on the the core of the galaxy to see it with light pollution.

 

I've viewed Andromeda with a 3/4 Moon in a 12", so I'm guessing regardless of light pollution level you should be able to make out the core at least.

 

Good luck!  :)


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#16 clintmk89

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:25 AM

Andromeda is pretty huge even in 10x50’s BUT as many have said it’s mainly about how high it is in the sky and light pollution. It doesn’t take much magnification in your 8” to overpower M31. It really is that massive, use Stellarium to find when it will be fairly high in your skies and go star hop for it. Use the lowest magnification EP you have. Even at pretty light polluted areas it should be visible if it’s high enough.

#17 hiMike

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:49 AM

Do you have a higher mm eyepiece you can try? Do you know what your field of view is on your 25mm? As mentioned, you may be zoomed in too much, especially with a low field of view eyepiece. You may have better luck with binoculars for Andromeda. 

 

Also, if you've got a park or something nearby without street lights that will make a world of difference.


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#18 MikeTelescope

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 01:20 PM

I can see it in Bortle 8 skies. My starhop picture is pasted below.  Easiest to first practice the starhop naked-eye.  Then with binoculars, and you should see the galaxy in binoculars.  Then try the hop with your scope's finder.  Finally, look in your scope's eyepiece.  

 

I find it easiest to start with the great square of Pegasus.  Even in Bortle 8 skies, the square is easy to find.  Start from the mag-2 left corner of the square.  Hop down and to the left to a dimmer mag-3 star.  Hop down and to the left again to a brighter mag-2 star, Mirach.  Hop up to a dimmer mag-3 star.  Hop up again to an even dimmer mag-4 star.  Finally, hop just a little bit up and to the right, and look for the smudge. 

 

The mag-3 and mag-4 stars in this hop might be just barely visible naked-eye, or not at all.  That's fine, estimate where they are from the chart, and practice the motion naked-eye.  Then go to binoculars.  

 

It is harder for me to do this hop from Cassiopeia.  Too much space between without bright guide stars in an urban sky. 

 

Important to keep expectations realistic.  It won't look anything like the astrophotography pictures, unless you are in a very dark sky, and looking in binoculars with big objectives.  Most likely you will only see the core. 

 

If you are fortunate to have darker skies, binoculars are the better instrument for this galaxy.  It is about 3 degrees wide at its fullest visible extent, which is going to be bigger than the FOV on your scope, even at a low magnification.  3deg fits nicely in 10x50 binoculars.  The galaxy's full visible extent is about 6 times wider than the full moon. 

 

Once you find it, look for the nearby satellite galaxies M32 and M110. 

 

While you are nearby, look at Almach, the circled star along the same row of stars you started your starhop with.  It is a colorful double star.  Also while nearby, look for the double-cluster, below Cassiopeia.  Take the left two stars of the middle of the W.  Follow them down a distance twice that of the distance between those two stars.  

Attached Thumbnails

  • M31.PNG

Edited by MikeTelescope, 19 September 2019 - 02:02 PM.

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#19 kfrank2380

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 07:50 AM

I think I actually found it last night. This threads star pics helped out big time. When someone mentioned you could see it with binoculars I broke out my 7x50 set and took a gander. I found Mirach, then the star above that, then the last one, and as I moved up I saw what looked like a dim light shining threw fog. I could barely see it. It reminded me of as a kid coloring with crayons really hard on a piece of paper then using my fingernail to slightly scratch the color off so the white paper barely showed underneath. Sorry if that's a analogy many can't relate to. I thought maybe it was a small cloud at first or some blemish on my lenses. I noticed as I moved the binoculars around the fog stayed in it's place. 

 

I brought the scope out and pointed it right at the fog. I'm pretty sure it was the Andromeda galaxy. I think what I saw was the core people were mentioning. I didn't see this beautiful swirl hurricane looking thing you see in pics. I saw a dim light in a huge fog. It's similar to how the Orion Nebula looks from my driveway but this had more of a fog look to it. To be fair my scope had not gotten acclimated to the temps yet and the galaxy was low in the sky close to the light pollution.

 

I'm glad I finally saw the dang thing. Thank you for all your help. This forum is awesome.


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#20 RobertMaples

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 08:44 AM

...I think what I saw was the core people were mentioning...

That's all I've been able to see in my Bortle 5 sky.  People often talk about Andromeda being so big, but I think it's easier to find, especially for beginners or in light pollution, if you concentrate on finding it's core.  Now your next challenge is to find M110 which appears very close to Andromeda.  With Andromeda centered, depending on the field of view of your 25mm eyepiece it will be right at the edge or right outside your view, so scan around Andromeda and you should be able to find it (it's much smaller than Andromeda).  M32 is even closer to Andromeda but even smaller and harder to spot.



#21 kfrank2380

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 08:56 AM

That's all I've been able to see in my Bortle 5 sky.  People often talk about Andromeda being so big, but I think it's easier to find, especially for beginners or in light pollution, if you concentrate on finding it's core.  Now your next challenge is to find M110 which appears very close to Andromeda.  With Andromeda centered, depending on the field of view of your 25mm eyepiece it will be right at the edge or right outside your view, so scan around Andromeda and you should be able to find it (it's much smaller than Andromeda).  M32 is even closer to Andromeda but even smaller and harder to spot.

I think my sky is Class 6 probably more like 6.5. The galaxy looked almost exactly like what shows in the pic of RyanSem's post. When I searched for pics of what Andromeda would look like at 50x I kept running across M33 and honestly the galaxy looked like the pictures of that. I'm positive I was above Mirach so I know it couldn't have been M33. 

post-298035-0-05597700-1568900298_thumb.


Edited by kfrank2380, 20 September 2019 - 08:57 AM.


#22 kathyastro

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 09:39 AM

Now your next challenge is to find M110 which appears very close to Andromeda.  With Andromeda centered, depending on the field of view of your 25mm eyepiece it will be right at the edge or right outside your view, so scan around Andromeda and you should be able to find it (it's much smaller than Andromeda).  M32 is even closer to Andromeda but even smaller and harder to spot.

When looking for M32 and M110, here are a couple of tips.  First, remember that you are only seeing the core of M31.  While M32 looks in photos like it is hanging right on the edge of the disk, it is a long way from the core.  It will be farther out than you think.  M32 is very small, and can look stellar in some conditions.  If you see a 'star' in the right position that looks a tiny bit fuzzy, that is probably it.  M110 is farther out from the core than M32.  It is easier to spot, because it doesn't look at all stellar.  It is another bit of fuzz.

 

They will both be easier to find if you orient yourself.  Know the geometry of your scope and the resulting field of view.  If you have an odd number of reflections (refractor with diagonal, SCT with diagonal), the image will be reversed compared to photos.  If you have an even number of reflections (Newt, refractor without a diagonal), the image will match a photo.  Know which direction is north.The satellite galaxies are easier to find if you know where to look.


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#23 MikeTelescope

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 12:29 PM

 I think what I saw was the core people were mentioning. I didn't see this beautiful swirl hurricane looking thing you see in pics. I saw a dim light in a huge fog. 

If you get a chance this fall, find a dark sky and take your binoculars.  Andromeda will be higher in the sky at reasonable hours in Oct-Nov.  Under a dark sky, Andromeda starts to look like that swirl hurricane in binoculars.  If you have the ability to stabilize your binoculars on a tripod or by bracing it on something solid, more detail will appear.  

 

I had my binoculars on a tripod under Bortle 3 skies a few weeks ago and saw Andromeda up only about 30deg.  It looked like the swirl hurricane as in astro photos.  It was so wide it almost filled the entire FOV.  

 

It's a completely different animal under dark skies.



#24 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 01:39 PM

Here's the section on M31 from my post at https://www.cloudyni...mers/?p=4592919

M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy)

 

M31 (NGC 224), the Andromeda Galaxy, is a large Sb spiral galaxy (apparent size=185x75 arc minutes) and a member of the Local Group, as is our home galaxy, the Milky Way. It is the brightest of the Messier galaxies (magnitude=3.4, surface brightness=13.6 magnitudes per square arc minute) and the brightest galaxy visible to most northern hemisphere observers. M31 is best seen in the fall and early winter. The Andromeda Galaxy can be seen without optical aid from reasonably dark sites. From light-polluted urban locations, only the core of the galaxy is visible when viewed through a telescope.

 

M31 has four dwarf galaxy companions. Two of them, M32 (NGC 221) and M110 (NGC 205) are in close proximity. M32, a cE2 compact elliptical galaxy, is due south of M31's nucleus. M110, an E5 peculiar galaxy, ls located northwest of M31. M32 and M110 are the nearest bright elliptical galaxies. Much farther away in Cassiopeia lie NGC 147 and NGC 185, types dE5 peculiar and dE3 peculiar, respectively.

 

It is possible to observe M31's dust lanes and other features such as globular clusters and stellar associations telescopically under very dark skies. NGC 206 is a vast star cloud similar to but larger than M24. Mayall II (M31-G1) is M31's brightest globular cluster.

 

http://messier.seds..../m031_n206.html

 

http://www.daviddarl.../Andromeda.html

 

http://www.astronomy...Space/gcm31.htm

 

http://ned.ipac.calt...las/frames.html

 

http://adsabs.harvar...AJ.....85..376H

 

Sketches of M31, M32, and M110 are posted at the following URLs:

 

http://www.deepskywa...axy-sketch.html

 

http://www.perezmedi...M31A_Rev3lg.jpg

 

Many novices are interested in learning how to locate M31 manually. Here are three ways to do it:

 

1. Star-hop "down 2" stars northeastward from Alpheratz (Alpha Andromedae) to Mirach (Beta Andromedae), then head northwestward "up 2" stars to Nu Andromedae. M31 is situated 1.3 degrees to the west of Nu Andromedae.

2. Follow the apex of the triangle formed by Schedar (Alpha Cassiopeiae), the southernmost star in Cassiopeia, and the neighboring stars Caph (Beta Cassiopeiae) and Navi (Gamma Cassiopeiae), southwestward for just over fifteen degrees.

3. Use Mirach and Alpheratz to form a near right triangle with M31. M31 lies not quite eight degrees to the northwest of Mirach and approximately fourteen degrees to the northeast of Alpheratz.

 

The following finder charts may prove useful:

 

http://www.astrosurf.com/jwisn/m31.htm

 

https://www.cloudyni...-andromeda-r377

 

https://www.wikihow....ndromeda-Galaxy

 

http://www.astronomy.../1/c/4/m31.ashx

 

http://www.ttgnet.co...m31-32-110.html

 

http://www.fourmilab...&fov=45.000&z=1

 

http://www.dreistein...c=A&id=5384&on=

 

Telrad finder charts for M31 can be found at the following sites:

 

http://www.custerobs...cs/messier2.pdf (map 3)

 

http://www.star-shin...charts/m031.htm

 

Browse http://www.skyhound....e/oct/M_31.html and http://messier.seds.org/m/m031.html for further information on M31. 

 

Other worthwhile sites include the following:

 

http://www.universet...475/messier-31/

 

http://www.nightskyi...ive/m31_galaxy/

 

http://www.messier-o...dromeda-galaxy/

 

http://www.backyard-...ve/m31/m31.html

https://archive.org/...lkAmongtheStars

 

http://earthsky.org/...ign=973760ff5a-

EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-973760ff5a-394425773

 

Short videos on M31, M32, and M110  can be seen at the following URLs:

 

http://www.deepskyvi..._andromeda.html

 

http://www.deepskyvi...cal_galaxy.html

 

http://www.deepskyvi...110_galaxy.html

 

Dave Mitsky


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#25 Jim1804

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 03:15 PM

I'm having a heck of a time finding the Andromeda galaxy. I live in NC. I have a 8" 1200mm scope, I'm finding Cassiopeia in my finder scope and checking to the right with my 25mm in various places but I can't seem to find it. I'm not sure if light pollution is the issue or I'm just not looking in the right spot. I keep going right of Cass and run into the bottom left star of Andromeda. Everything in between that and Cass is just tiny stars. I've found some bright ones in between but I think they are parts of the Andromeda constellation.


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