M31 and M32






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M31 - the Andromeda Galaxy or the Andromeda Spiral. Call it what you will, it is one of the real gems of the night sky. At two and a quarter million light years away, it is one of our Local Group of galaxies, but not the closest. Even so, from any reasonably dark place on a clear night it can be seen with the unaided eye. Through binoculars it is stunning, and probably at its best, because really it's too big for a telescope, and with its size and the loss of some contrast because of the higher magnification, you don't really appreciate its full glory. It's too big for a camera at prime focus, too, and too small for piggyback. As if tha's not enough, it is tilted at quite an angle to us, so we can't really see the shape, which is a pity. Imagine that other local group member, the hard to see but face on spiral M33 in Triangulum as big and bright as M31!

However through a telescope it's obvious that M31 has a companion close by - the little M32. There is another, too. Go and look at NGC205's page.