Finding the Andromeda Galaxy (aka M31)

Here’s a bit of astronomical lore I picked up a few years ago. I learned the sky at summer camp; I have looked through numerous telescopes over the years; I even took an astronomy class in college—but no one ever pointed out the Andromeda Galaxy (the most distant and largest object we can see with our naked eyes!). So I invented my own way to find it using the triangle in Cassiopeia as my pointer. This is a great target for binoculars!

We are somewhat spoiled by all the great astronomical photography out there. Once you find it, Andromeda is a dim, fuzzy snowball with a halo. But consider these facts: it is 2.5 million light years away, it is 220,000 light years across, and it contains over one trillion stars! Now go back and think about what you are seeing. It is so huge that even at that distance it is much larger than anything else in the night sky save the moon!

Source: Vedran Vrhovac