Andromeda is the nearest spiral galaxy to our own galaxy, the Milky Way. It gets its name from the constellation it resides in, namely the constellation of Andromeda. It is the largest galaxy of the Local Group of galaxies and is 2.5 million light years away from Earth. In this image of the Andromeda galaxy, two of its satellite galaxies can also be seen. Messier 110 is the most obvious. It lies a little farther than Andromeda at about 2.7 million light years. The second satellite galaxy is Messier 32. It contains a supermassive black hole and its mass has been estimated to be somewhere in the range of 1.5 and 5 million solar masses.
This image of the Andromeda Galaxy is the first image I captured with my new Takahashi FSQ106. I used the f/3.6 focal reducer in order to frame the galaxy in just one frame. It was captured at a new dark sky site available to astronomers in the region. The site is located in the North Frontenac dark sky preserve and is located in a region of grey on a light pollution map. It is about 2 hours west of Ottawa and is almost as dark as my favourite site near Foymount, Ontario but it is not very high so it suffers from worse seeing conditions. On the night of this exposure, about 15 astronomers made the journey to this new site where we all enjoyed a warm summer night under a magnificent display of the summer Milky Way.
Interestingly, UGC394 can be seen in the lower left of the image as a small smudge but one where the core is resolved from the outer reaches of the galaxy. In this image, North is down and East is to the right. To find UGC394, look about twice the distance, northwest, from the core of Andromeda toward Messier 110. It is mind boggling enough to think that the light from the Andromeda galaxy left before Humans existed. Galaxy UGC394 lies roughly 234 million light years away, so the light we are seeing from it today left at a time just before the dinosaurs came into existence!