Universe Guide

Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224) Facts and How to Find

Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224) Facts and How to Find Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda

Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224) is a spiral galaxy object of interest in space. It lies at a distance of between 2,430,000.00 and 265,000.00 light years away in the constellation of Andromeda.

It is referred to as M(31) when it was catalogued by Charles Messier in 18th - 19th Century France. It is also referred to as NGC(224) in the New General Catalogue. This is a list of deep space objects that was compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer in 1888 in an update to John Herschel earlier catalogue. Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224) was discovered in 905AD by Al-Sufi.

The Spiral Galaxy's location is 00:42.7 (R.A.) and +41:16 (Dec.). Its Visual (Apparent) Brightness is 3.00 Magnitude with an apparent dimension of 178x63 . The object can be seen with the naked eye from Earth, that is, you don't need a telescope/binoculars to see it.

Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224) has a radius of 110,000 light years or to put it another way, it has a diameter of 220,000 light years. It would take a space ship 220,000 years travelling at the speed of light to get from one side to the other.

The Andromedagalaxy is one of the most well known galaxies (in terms of people knowing on Earth) in the Universe. It is relatively close in space speak but it is not the closest galaxy to the milky way, the closest is the Dwarf galaxy Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest Spiral Galaxy to our own. The Andromeda is very large and makes our galaxy look tiny. Our galaxy is 100,000 Light Years across but the Andromeda is 220,000 Light Years across. Not only is it larger in scale, it also has more stars. It is estimated that the Milky Way has about 200-400 Billion stars but that the Andromeda Galaxy has over a trillion stars. ref:universetoday

The Andromeda Galaxy might not have just one nucleus but two. This is based on a study by the Hubble Telescope team that spotted two nucleus at the centre of the galaxy using the Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WFPC)Look Upwards.

How to find and see the Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224)

The site assumes that you are viewing from London in the Northern Hemisphere and from Sydney in the Southern Hemisphere and are looking at the sky about 9 p.m. If you are looking at another time or location, you will need to adjust for your location.

The Andromeda Galaxy is the only galaxy that can be seen with the naked eye. All you'll be able to see though is fuzz, you'd need a pair of binoculars or a telescope to see it clearer. For the northern hemisphere, I am assuming you are viewing from London. Unless stated otherwise, I am assuming you are looking up at the sky at 9 p.m. For other locations in the northern hemisphere, you will need to account for this.

Northern Hemisphere

The Andromeda Galaxy can be seen in the sky in the winter months. From about 6 p.m. in January, it is high in the sky in a near-westerly direction. Over the course of the night, it will get lower in the sky. It will go by 3 a.m. The further into the month and year you go, the lower the galaxy is on the horizon. In May, it is just barely visible on the horizon at about 9 p.m.

The Andromeda Galaxy is viewable in the night sky about August on the horizon and over the months and hours, it rises higher into the night sky.

Southern Hemisphere

For the southern hemisphere, I am assuming you are in Sydney, Australia so if you're anywhere else, you will need to adjust accordingly. The Andromeda Galaxy is visible on the horizon mid to late October until early january when it will no longer be visiible.

Discovery of the Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy has been known of since about 900 A.D., helped by the fact that it is visible to the naked eye and still is. When it was first discovered, the discoverer would not have known exactly what he was looking at as it would have just appeared as a smudge in the sky. When French Astronomer Charles Messier was surveying the skies for his catalogue, he labelled the galaxy M31, being the 31st object in his catalogue. It can be seen if you up at the sky at an area near Nu Andromedae, the nearest star of interest to it.

Planets and Life in the Andromeda Galaxy

It would be arrogant to say its a fact that the Milky Way is the only galaxy in the universe to have planets and life. We can't prove or disprove there's no life in Andromeda. What we do now is that there are planets in the Andromeda Galaxy. Scientists reported in 2009 that they'd discovered a planet round a star in the Andromeda galaxy using the same techniques they use here for spotting planets. The planet is six times as big as Jupiter so it'll be a gas planet with no chance of life. The only way we'd get there is using a space ship like the Tardis or going through a wormhole.

Collision between Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way

The Andromeda Galaxy will become a lot brighter in the future. However you do not need to worry as that won't happen for billions of years. The two galaxies are moving towards one another at about 75 miles per second. It might seem like a fast speed but when you take into account the distance, you will understand that it will take a long time. On my galaxy page is a N.A.S.A. video of galaxy collision.

When the galaxies collide, it won't create some massive explosion like you get when two cars travelling at high speed crash into one another. There is sufficient space between the stars that some stars will pass by one another. The two galactic cores will just merge to create a new super galaxy but won't still be anywhere near as big as IC 1101 galaxy, currently the largest galaxy known to us. Some stars will just drift past one another and with no touching. The Tadpole Galaxy is an example of when two galaxies collide, a large tail is formed. Some stars will be flung out of the new galaxy and become a Rogue Star

A whole new series of star formations will be rumoured to start when the two galaxies collide, that could also mean new life forms.

Andromeda Galaxy when it collides with us won't be the first cosmic collision that our galaxy has had. Our galaxy has consumed other galaxies and will consume other galaxies before we reach Andromeda Galaxy. The widely accepted oldest star so far discovered, Methuselah Star is reputed to have come from another galaxy that the Milky Way consumed.

Andromeda Galaxy Facts Summary

Travel Time to Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224)

The time it will take to travel to this star is dependent on how fast you are going. U.G. has done some calculations as to how long it will take going at differing speeds. A note about the calculations, when I'm talking about years, I'm talking non-leap years only (365 days).

The New Horizons space probe is the fastest probe that we've sent into space at the time of writing. Its primary mission was to visit Pluto which at the time of launch (2006), Pluto was still a planet.

DescriptionSpeed (m.p.h.)Time (years)
Airbus A3807362,214,128,272,377.72
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.2692,123,894,499,152.19
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.541,061,945,865,516.70
New Horizons Probe33,00049,381,769,953.64
Speed of Light670,616,629.002,430,000.00

Fact File

NameAndromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC224)
TypeSpiral Galaxy
Messier Id31
NGC Id224
Right Ascension00:42.7
Distance (Lt.Yr)2,430,000 - 2,650,00
Radius (Lt.Yr)110,000.00
Apparent Dimension178x63
Visual / Apparent Magnitude3.00
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Year of Discovery905AD
Morphological TypeSA(s)b D
CoprightAnglo-Australian Observatory

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