October 6th, 2015
Ask someone how far they can see with just their eyes and they’ll probably say a couple of miles. Some, thinking outside the box, might consider the Sun, Moon or even the stars themselves and guess at maybe hundreds of light years. Not many will know the real answer: two and a half million light years.
That’s far how the Andromeda galaxy is from the Earth. That’s right; another galaxy, totally independent of our own Milky Way, containing hundreds of billions of stars, can be seen with just your eyes. No binoculars or telescopes required.
Before you get too excited, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll need dark skies and you won’t see much. If you live in a city, you won’t see it at all (although you can pick it out with a telescope or binoculars from most locations.) However, if your skies are dark enough, you may just see a tiny, elliptical misty patch close to the brighter stars of Andromeda.
Look at it through a small telescope and you’ll see an elongated cloud with a fairly bright core. It might not look like much, but in reality, if your eyes were sensitive enough to see the entire galaxy, it would appear about six times larger than the full Moon.
As you stare, remember that its light has taken over two million years to reach us. You’re looking at the galaxy as it was when humanity was barely beginning and all of human history had yet to happen. Time travel at its finest.
All Astronomical Events for October 6th, 2015
The Draconid meteor shower begins. A maximum zenith hourly rate: Variable. (Naked eye, Draco, all night but best in the pre-dawn sky.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
Astronomical events taken from 2015: An Astronomical Year, available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Night sky simulations created using Mobile Observatory for Android devices. Vesta image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
2015: An Astronomical Year
|2016: An Astronomical Year||2016: The Night Sky Sights||The Astronomical Almanac (2015-2019)||The Deep Sky Observer’s Guide|
(Kindle & Paperback)
|(Kindle & Paperback)||(Kindle & Paperback)||(Kindle & Paperback)||
|Amazon – US||Amazon – US||Amazon – US||Amazon – US|
|Amazon – UK||Amazon – UK||Amazon – UK||Amazon – UK|
Details of all available books across the world can be found here or by visiting the author’s page on Amazon. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at astronomywriter “at” gmail.com