Faint fuzzy

On Saturday the weather cheered up a bit from the cloud and rain of the last few weeks. That allowed me to go outside and have a look at some stars. I still don't have a telescope of my own and at the moment there is no access to the one at the university due to building work. So, I was left with just my trusty digital camera to take some shots of the sky.

The area of Manchester that I live in has lots of rows of terraced houses and the view from my backyard looks very similar to that in the opening credits of the British soap opera Cornonation Street. Despite the limited horizon that this gives, I can see the summer triangle from my back door.

Looking around towards the east/south-east, at 11pm, I spotted the square of Pegasus. Taking the top left corner of the square (if you live in the northern hemisphere) you can then follow two curved lines of stars leading up towards Cassiopeia. These two lines make up the constellation of Andromeda (the Princess) who, in mythology, was the daughter of Cassiopeia (the Queen) and Cepheus (the King). Using the stars in Andromeda you can look for the Andromeda Galaxy which is the furthest thing you are likely to see with the unaided eye at a distance of almost three million light years.

However this is Manchester, so the light pollution stopped me from seeing it without a pair of (borrowed) binoculars. Below is a picture that I took with my digital camera. I have processed it to remove all the large scale structure (the orange sky glow) so that it doesn't look quite so orange! Depending on the contrast of your monitor, you can just about make out a little smudge where M31 is supposed to be. You may need to clean your monitor if it is as dusty as mine! It isn't as good as the night sky shots of Tom or Ian, but not bad for my digital camera in the middle of Manchester.

M31 in Andromeda
Part of the constellation Andromeda showing the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Taken with a Fuji Finepix S602Z on 6th August 2005. CREDIT: Stuart

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 08th Aug 2005 (16:05 UTC) | Permalink
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