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closetgeek
2007-Oct-30, 03:01 PM
I am determined to find Andromeda. It has been written to be viewable with the naked eye, even with light pollution. I found Pegasus two years ago by using Cassiopeia as a pointer. Unfortunately, I bumbled my information at that point and thought Andromeda was just off the handle of the Big Dipper. Now that I know exactly where to find it, oddly enough, I can't seem to locate the largest constellation in the sky. A few hours after sunset I can still locate Cassiopeia and she is low enough where Pegasus should still be viewable. I know finding Andromeda will not be anything spectacular to my eyes, it's just the aesthetic value of see an object with my unaided eye which is so large that it is viewable from 2.5 lightyears away. Does anyone have any suggestions on possible other constellations I can use as pointers to zero in on Pegasus?

Saluki
2007-Oct-30, 03:10 PM
To find Pegasus, I just look for the square of pegasus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(constellation)). Its hard to miss if its in the sky.

Andromeda will be above and to the left of the Square (northern hemisphere viewers). If you are looking for the Andromeda Galaxy, it is almost in a straight line up and to the right of the two corner stars (lower right to upper left) of the Square.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-30, 03:19 PM
The Andromeda Galaxy is easy to find in a dark sky but if you have light pollution or haze it won't be visible to the naked eye.

A good indicator: If you can see the Milky Way running from Perseus thru Casseopia and on thru Cygnus, then the sky is probably dark enough to see Andromeda. If you can't make out the Milky Way from where you live, then it's gonna be tough to see M31 (Andromeda) with the naked eye.

NOTE: Even the cheapest binoculars will allow you to see M31 easily.

antoniseb
2007-Oct-30, 03:32 PM
closetgeek, will you please title your threads so people know the topic without having to open them. I've been editing your titles, but I shouldn't have to.

John Mendenhall
2007-Oct-30, 05:08 PM
The Andromeda Galaxy is easy to find in a dark sky but if you have light pollution or haze it won't be visible to the naked eye.

A good indicator: If you can see the Milky Way running from Perseus thru Casseopia and on thru Cygnus, then the sky is probably dark enough to see Andromeda. If you can't make out the Milky Way from where you live, then it's gonna be tough to see M31 (Andromeda) with the naked eye.

NOTE: Even the cheapest binoculars will allow you to see M31 easily.

That's my experience. When my wife and I were making numerous cross country trips, we always stopped at the rest stop on Sherman Hill west of Cheyenne WY. Wonderful and accessible dark sky site at the time. You could see everything.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-30, 05:18 PM
That's my experience. When my wife and I were making numerous cross country trips, we always stopped at the rest stop on Sherman Hill west of Cheyenne WY. Wonderful and accessible dark sky site at the time. You could see everything.

The Tucson sky where I live is pretty dark but I haven't been to a really remote dark sky in years. I know this sounds funny but the first time I saw a really dark sky I was at a loss to pick out the constellations - there were so many stars.

jamesabrown
2007-Oct-30, 06:19 PM
I just recently saw M31 for the first time with my admittedly inexpensive 10x50 binoculars. Here's how I did it.

You mentioned being able to see Cassie and that's where I started. Right now in my northern hemisphere home, Cassie looks like a blockish numeral three. From the top of the numeral working down, count the five major stars as one through five. Start with stars number one and two (the top bar of the number three) and follow their straight line to the right until you see a bright star about as bright as the stars of Cassie. That's the right ankle of Andromeda. Think of Andromeda as a pair of mildly separated legs working up toward the torso, the right leg brighter than the left.

From Andromeda's right ankle, look straight up to see the right knee star, both as bright as each other. Next I imagine the binocular's field of view as the round face of a clock, and I put the right knee star at three o'clock, just on the right edge of the field of view. Once there, a fainter star should be visible at about nine o'clock. That's the left knee of Andromeda. These two stars point back toward, but over the top of, the top bar of Cassie.

Now do the same trick as before, only move your binocs a bit more to the left and put Andromeda's left knee at three o'clock. Now at roughly nine to ten o'clock should be a fuzzy patch and that's your galaxy.

I can't see M31 with the naked eye in my backyard even knowing exactly where to look. Also, forget about the clearly defined arms and details that you've probably seen in a Hubble picture. For me, all I see is a glow. It took a bit of practice, but once I found it I was an expert. Now I can nail it with no problem. I showed my son the next night, and we took a bit of rummaging to really get it. He was losing patience with me, I could tell:

Me: Now look just to the left and it should be there.
Him: Yeah, I see it. (underwhelmed reaction)
Me: Are you sure?
Him: Yeah.
Me: You're looking at the fainter star to the left of the bright one?
Him: Yes. (Getting a bit annoyed with me)
Me: And to the left of that faint star is the fuzzy patch.
Him: Right . . . oh, that star. I was looking at the wrong one.
Me: So tilt your head slightly and look to the left and . . .
Him: There it is! COOOL!

Sweet satisfaction.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-30, 06:37 PM
Closetgeek,

If this attempt to view Andromeda (M31) is more than just a one-time thing and you are planning to view other objects, you really need to pick up a book of star-maps or get them off the internet (capture and print screen images maybe). From the star-maps you can then learn to star-hop to find dozens of naked-eye objects, hundreds of binocular objects, and thousands of telescope objects. There have been a few threads on good observing books that you can find easily with a search.

Noclevername
2007-Oct-30, 06:42 PM
any suggestions (on finding M31)?

Where was the last place you had it? ;)

Romanus
2007-Oct-31, 05:01 AM
<<I am determined to find Andromeda. It has been written to be viewable with the naked eye, even with light pollution.>>

Tucson Tim's right: no way. Of all the times I've spent looking for M 31 under suburban skies with moderate light pollution, I've only seen it with my naked eye a couple of times, and in no instance would I have recognized it if I wasn't focusing on that area of the sky. With binoculars the search is infinitely easier.

What works for me is drawing an imaginary line between Zeta Cassoipeiae and Mu Andromedae, which are of about the same brightness; M 31 is within one binocular field of the latter star.

closetgeek
2007-Oct-31, 01:21 PM
I am sorry, this will become habit in the future.


closetgeek, will you please title your threads so people know the topic without having to open them. I've been editing your titles, but I shouldn't have to.

closetgeek
2007-Oct-31, 01:39 PM
Where was the last place you had it? ;)

In my back pocket but I put those pants in the washing machine...
I am going to have to go to storage and pull out that book with the page number. In the chapter on naked eye astronomy it plainly states that Andromeda is viewable with the naked eye in NYC. I live in an area that is rapidly changing from rural to suburbia but my neighborhood is very dark. Spotting dim stars is not that difficult from my backyard but if total dark is necessary, a ten minute drive west will take me to the heart of nowhere. The nearest city, and by city, I mean a court house, town hall, and a few furniture stores, is roughly 15 miles to the North and almost 12 miles to the South. The problem more lies with having one clear night and then a month of clouds. This is the time of year that is optimal for viewing, but this is also the time of year that the storms roll in at night. This is why it is taking me so long.

Seeing the Milkyway band is not at all difficult, my problem is more having the confidence to confirm that what I am actually seeing is the Constellation I seek. The first time I found Pegasus, my stepfather was with me to say I was correct. I do have quite a few back yard astronomer books and use the monthly star charts to map the skies. With Jameabrowns' directions, this should no longer be such a task, thank you. BTW if that "me/him" conversation is supposed to be us, I will thank you to change the him to her.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-31, 03:07 PM
I am going to have to go to storage and pull out that book with the page number. In the chapter on naked eye astronomy it plainly states that Andromeda is viewable with the naked eye in NYC.

Regardless of what the book says, I'd be amazed if you could see M31 with the naked eye from most locations in NYC (unless it was written in 1842). Maybe during a blackout.

Star-charts are the way to learn the sky, especially the constellations. After a while, you won't have to "star-hop" to find objects like M31 - you can just look up at the sky and see it (or at least know exactly where it is if the sky is haze- or light-polluted).

jamesabrown
2007-Oct-31, 04:58 PM
With Jameabrowns' directions, this should no longer be such a task, thank you. BTW if that "me/him" conversation is supposed to be us, I will thank you to change the him to her.

No, the me/him conversation is me and my son.

Robert Tulip
2007-Nov-01, 11:44 AM
viewable from 2.5 lightyears away.

That should be 2.5 million light years - with an order of magnitude error of only one million times maybe looking in your jeans in the wash wasn't such a bad idea.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere we only see M31 low on the northern horizon underneath Pisces for a brief time each year. It is quite a challenge to spot it. But then, in Sydney these days they call the Southern Cross the Southern Triangle because the fourth star is so hidden by light pollution.

closetgeek
2007-Nov-01, 01:51 PM
Lol, yeah, that's kind of a big typo. That should be correct in a few billion year, though, right? I was talking in the future sense.:whistle:


That should be 2.5 million light years - with an order of magnitude error of only one million times maybe looking in your jeans in the wash wasn't such a bad idea.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere we only see M31 low on the northern horizon underneath Pisces for a brief time each year. It is quite a challenge to spot it. But then, in Sydney these days they call the Southern Cross the Southern Triangle because the fourth star is so hidden by light pollution.

Devino
2007-Nov-02, 01:31 PM
I was able to find Andromeda galaxy using a star map (National Audubon field guide), a red flashlight and binoculars. With quite a lot of light pollution here I needed the binoculars to see it but I found it looked more spectacular then though a telescope. I was pretty excited when I found it without the aid of a star finder (autostar). Locating constellations with a star map is more difficult then I thought but now I enjoy it, especially after I can actually find stuff.

The square of Pegasus has a triangle of stars in the upper right corner that appears to point to the left side and towards the Andromeda constellation (looks like Pegasus's legs) and from there I find the spot near where the galaxy should be and then use my binoculars. It took me a while but it was well worth it I thought.

closetgeek
2007-Nov-03, 08:40 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I found Andromeda last night. It was purely by luck. I didn't think it was visible at such an hour. I was up till about 3 last night and I went outside to grab something from my car, glanced up and could not believe how clear the sky was. When I saw Casseopia I followed those directions. It was so subtle that I wasn't sure what I was seeing at first. After a few seconds of staring, I confirmed it and let out a little squeal of delight. I got the feeling I was expecting and just wanted to thank you all again for all the help.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-03, 08:43 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I found Andromeda last night.

No matter how many times I see M31 with my naked eye it still thrills me to think that that light left there over 2 million years ago.

jamesabrown
2007-Nov-05, 02:11 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I found Andromeda last night. .

Congratulations! Quite a thrill, isn't it?

One Messier object down, 109 to go. You better keep a list.

closetgeek
2007-Nov-06, 02:33 PM
Yes it is. The first thing I ever saw through my cheesy Walmart telescope, which is now broken, was Jupiter and 3 of her moons. They were mere specs in the Cosmos but spectacular to grasp. To think, one of those moons could possibly be sustaining life. Is that "warm and fuzzy" to dream about? It doesn't have to be a visual assault, just the concept. Who knows what lies in Andromeda? Really, who knows what exists in our own galaxy? I don't know, I am lost for words. It was just really exciting.