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M31 April 23, 2007

Posted by dorigo in astronomy.

As a fairly average astro-visualist, I am by definition a pervert of sorts. We aim for the largest instruments to see the smallest, farthest galaxies in the night sky, and get immense pleasure in seeing specks of light that have absolutely no information to bring other than “hi, I’m a photon, been around for 450 million years, nice to meet your retinal cones”.

With our instruments, we neglect the largest, closest objects, which of course are those that would allow us to learn the most, if only we aimed our scopes at them. One such object is the big galaxy Messier 31, which lies “only” a couple of million light years away from us with two companion galaxies, M32 and M110.

Today I saw a jaw-dropping image of the trio, made by an amateur with a ridiculously small instrument – a mere 6″ refractor, duh. By far the best picture I ever saw of M31.

Please check it out here: http://www.astrophoto.com/M31DEEP.htm . It shows so much detail of the spiral arms and dark lanes, it looks unreal.

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