M 31

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Description: The 'Andromeda Galaxy' is the nearest large galaxy to our own. In 2.5 billion years it will merge with our Milky Way to form a giant elliptical galaxy. M 31 is home to a trillion stars and was described by the Persian astronomer Al-Sufi in 964. It is unusually rich in globular clusters for a spiral galaxy, harboring at least 500 of them. M 32, the bright globular cluster to the left of the nucleus of M 31, is responsible for some of the disturbances in the spiral structure of M 31. M110, the dwarf elliptical galaxy to the lower right, shows a faint, dusty lane to M 31. This also speaks of a past encounter with M 31. The black hole at the center of M 31 has a mass of about 30 million Suns. It is possible that the center of M 31 contains two nuclei.
Constellation: Andromeda
Distance: ~2.9 million light years
Apparent Size: 3.1o x 1.0o (This is almost 7 times the width of a full Moon.)
Date: 15, 17, and 18 september 2007
Equipment: AP130, STL11000, AP Mach 1
Total Exposure: RGB: 3--3--3.2 hours, unbinned (Astrodons)