Messier Monday: M31 the Andromeda Galaxy

FM Astronomy Club • 18 November 2019

Andromeda GalaxyThis Monday's Messier object is M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest major galaxy to ours and is the best showpiece for amateur astronomers in the northern hemisphere. At a distance of approximately 2.5 million light years from us this is one of the most distant objects that can be seen with the naked eye but it won't look like more than a fuzzy star. 

The Andromeda Galaxy is a great target for binoculars, small telescopes, and larger instruments. It's a must-see object for the fall and winter observers. Adjacent to M31 are two smaller galaxies - M32 and M110. 

For more about the Andromeda Galaxy, check out this article

About the Messier Objects

The Messier objects are a list of 110 deep-sky objects cataloged by the French astronomer Charles Messier. Messier was primarily interested in hunting comets but many deep-sky objects would look like a comet through his telescope. He cataloged these deep-sky "false" comets to assist himself and other astronomers from misidentifying an object as a comet. 

The Messier Catalog is a popular list of deep-sky objects for amateur astronomers to observe. These objects are relatively easy to find,  easy to view through smaller telescopes and provide a variety of objects including galaxies, globular and open clusters, planetary nebula, and nebula. The Messier objects often serve as a starter list for amateur astronomers. 

Astronomical LeagueAstronomical League Observing Programs 

The Astronomical League offers a number of observing programs that allow you to earn certificates and pins while learning the night sky. M13 is one of the objects you need to observe in a number of programs, including (but not limited to):

Keep a journal of when you observe and what objects you look at. Keep this as you work towards completing these observing programs.