Autumn is the best time of year for astronomical observations. The drawbacks of summer are gone, the cold winter has not come yet and it is getting dark not so early.
Favorite objects for most amateur astronomers are the so-called “deep space objects”. This is the largest structure located outside the stars in the immediate galactic neighborhood. These cosmic landmarks include clusters of stars in the Milky Way and even other galaxies. Due to their remoteness, these objects are weak and difficult to see. You may have to go to a darker place to find them.
Amateur astronomers, as a rule, find objects in the sky using a technique called “star paths”. Using this method, bright nearby stars are used to find fainter distant objects. In late October, there are not enough bright stars in the night sky. Therefore, at this time of the year, amateur astronomers are looking for a disk of the Milky Way in the north, since there are relatively few stars located there that obstruct observation.
Even though most of the brightest stars that observers can see from Earth do not appear in the sky this month, this does not mean that amateur astronomers cannot use some dim stars to discover interesting objects . There are many stars that are below the second stellar magnitude, which form several easily recognizable stellar images. Ahead and in the center, about halfway to the zenith, is Pegasus Square, tilted at 45 degrees. To the left of Pegasus is Cassiopeia, which has the form “W”. Below it is Perseus, one of the richest areas in the Milky Way. Pegasus, Cassiopeia and Perseus are the main backbone of the stars, with which amateur astronomers can find more distant objects.
First of all, this is Andromeda - the largest galaxy in the space group, which includes the Milky Way. Andromeda is located about 2540000 light-years from the Milky Way. This means that people can see trillions of stars travel to Earth for more than 2 million years. Beginning astronomers are often confused over the names of the objects of the constellation in which they are located. Thus, "Andromeda" can refer to both the Andromeda Nebula and the Andromeda constellation, where it is located. In the same way, the “Milky Way” can refer both to the native galaxy and to distant stars that are visible in the night sky. You can easily find the Andromeda galaxy with the help of the constellation Cassiopeia as a guide. If we represent the right side of the “W” in the form of an arrowhead, then it directly points toward Andromeda. There is also a more accurate way, based on Pegasus Square. His extreme left star, Alferaz, is the head of Andromeda, Queen of Ethiopia in Greek mythology.
So what should you see? Andromeda is so far away that its trillions of stars create a very faint luminous spot. You can easily detect it with binoculars. However, the sky should be dark enough so that it can be detected with the naked eye. When people first see Andromeda, they complain that this is the weakest object they have ever seen, although to experienced astronomers it looks dazzlingly bright. There is a useful technique that astronomers use, called “lateral vision.” It uses a feature of the human eye, where the most sensitive vision is located a little from the center of your field of view. Look a little away from the place where Andromeda is located and you should see it more clearly. In fact, Andromeda is easier to see through binoculars than through a telescope, as it is very large. It is larger than the field of view of most telescopes, so you can easily skip it, although you will look into it at close range. Use the smallest magnification and wider field of view of your telescope.
Watching Andromeda, you can see two satellites of the galaxy. In fact, they are located farther than they look in the photograph, because the photographs were taken with a long exposure time to capture the outer limits of the galaxy. One of the satellites, Messier 32, is fairly easy to see, as it is as bright as the main galaxy. Another satellite, M110, is more challenging because it has a low brightness. We now turn to easier targets. This cluster of stars within the galaxy, which includes the Earth. The brightest are known as Pleiades or Seven Sisters. At the very beginning of the evening, they are located low above the horizon, but already at 3 am they are located almost overhead. You can easily see this for yourself by watching them with the naked eye. Without any optical devices, you can identify about six stars in this cluster, but you can watch at least ten with binoculars. In Japanese, this cluster is known as Subaru, and the car named after him uses the stars as the logo of the car. Pleiades located at a distance of 410 light years from the sun.
A pair of star clusters known as the Perseus Cluster are located between Cassiopeia and Perseus. The cluster consists of hundreds of stars, which are very densely arranged together and give pleasure when viewed through binoculars or a small telescope. They are located at a distance of 7000 and 8000 light years from Earth. The last object is much more complex: Triangle or Pinwheel. You can find it using the same stars that we asked to use to find the Andromeda galaxy, although it will be necessary to search in the opposite direction, south instead of north. It is located at a distance of 2870000 light years from Earth, a little further than Andromeda. Although it is easy enough to find, the Triangle is very hard to see. Although it is large and quite bright, it has a very low brightness due to its orientation. To see the Triangle, you will need a dark sky and binoculars or a telescope with a wide field of view. Despite the difficulties, some keen observers can identify it without any optical instruments.