Our own Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy

The past  few weeks I’ve been trying to make a proper Milky Way shot from Enschede, which turned out to be very difficult. First of all, only a very faint part of the Milky Way is visible here in Holland and second, Enschede has too much light pollution. Although the light pollution in Enschede is not as bad as in Amsterdam, there is definately no Milky Way visible to the naked eye (limiting magnitude 4 – 5). From a 30 sec, ISO 6400, 18mm image I did manage to bring out some faint signs of the Milky Way over Enschede:

Very, very faint milky way over Enschede

Very, very faint milky way over Enschede

The image below is what would be visible under dark skies and without horizon and trees, according to Stellarium software. This image might help you to notice the faint belt of clouds in the photo I took.

Stellarium screenshot of what's out there

Stellarium screenshot of what’s out there

Before I started taking photographs with my telescope I used to watch the Andromeda galaxy quite often. Visible from summer until winter and now, slowly climbing the sky to be right above us around October, it is one of the most interesting objects in the night sky.

The Andromeda galaxy is the largest nearby galaxy to our Milky Way and it is so bright, that we can see it with the naked eye even though it is a whopping 2.5 Million! light-years away. This means that the light we see whenever we look at it, has been traveling for 2.5 million years. At the speed of light, which is 7 times around the Earth per a second.

To get a feeling for the size of the universe, remember that Andromeda is the nearest large galaxy and think about the fact that there are over a 100 billion (that’s over 100 x 1000 x a million) more galaxies out there. Still find the size of the universe hard to get your head around? Good. Then you get it.

Anyway, I took 21 x 15-second exposures at ISO6400 and 55mm zoom of mentioned galaxy and stacked 11 frames (10 frames turned out to be rubbish). Even though the sky was quite hazy, the Andromeda Galaxy is distinguishable from the stars surrounding it. I added some names of the bigger nearby stars, Andromeda’s satellite galaxies and some lines of the Andromeda/Pegasus constellation to the photo. Whenever I get the opportunity, I will try to make a good Andromeda photo through my telescope.

Andromeda as shot through a thin layer of clouds (stack of 11)

Andromeda as shot through a thin layer of clouds (stack of 11)

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