If you wander outside this weekend at about 20:30 p.m. EST, you will be able to witness the spectacularly bright Andromeda Galaxy which can be spotted with the naked eye if you’re looking in the right place.
The Andromeda Galaxy is currently traveling our way at a speed of 250,000 miles per second and in 3.75 billion years will be what we see up close outside at night, at least if we are still around. However, it is still a safe distance away from us at 2,538,000 light years away, and this weekend is the perfect time to view it now that it is the start of autumn, according to Forbes.
While the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is quite close to us, at least as far as galaxies go, it would still take us 2.5 million light years to reach it if we were able. However, as traveling at the speed of light is an impossibility, we will have to be content with it from where we are, which means getting our telescopes out if we wish to see it properly. Of course, you can still use binoculars or the naked eye this weekend when it will appear extra bright.
To view the Andromeda at the start of autumn, you will need to turn your attention to the eastern sky immediately after dusk as the galaxy rises into view. To spot it, it will help to train your eye to recognize the two constellations that sit on both sides of it, namely Cassiopeia and Pegasus.
This Weekend The Trillion-Star Andromeda Galaxy Will Be At Its Brilliant Best https://t.co/58lnlHt0Ey
— UF Physics (@ufphysics) September 27, 2018
When observing the eastern sky, see if you can find the Great Square of Pegasus which will appear shaped like a diamond over the horizon. There will be four stars here, and you should focus your attention on Alpertaz, which is on the far left (and also 97 light years away from Earth).
After you have found Alperatz, turn your gaze toward the northeast sky and look to the right of Cassiopeia (shaped like a W) for what looks like a V-shape which appears next to the Great Square. This V-shape will point directly to the Andromeda Galaxy. If you happen to live outside of a city, finding Andromeda is much easier with the naked eye. However, it will help greatly if you at least have a pair of binoculars if you are in a city.
You can also find Andromeda by viewing Alpertaz and aiming your eyes to the left two stars away and then looking directly up the exact same distance from where the two bright stars can be seen. Once you’ve located what looks like a milky patch, bingo. This is the Andromeda Galaxy.