Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter
This large northern constellation belongs to the constellation family of Perseus, Cassiopeia, and Cepheus. The name of the primary or Alpha star of Andromeda is Sirrah, whose Arabic meaning refers to the “horse’s navel”. This association is related with the constellation of Pegasus, which borders Andromeda.
In mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of Cassiopeia and Cepheus. Unfortunately her mother was so vain that she thought herself to be more beautiful than the daughters of Nereus, a god of the sea. This angered the sea god Poseidon. To punish the mother, Andromeda was chained to a rock of the coast as a sacrifice for a sea monster, Cetus (another southern constellation).. Yet she escaped this fate for she was saved from death by Perseus. For rescuing her he demanded Andromeda as his wife (which the parents gladly accepted). As an eternal reminder, Cassiopeia remains forever chained to her royal throne, and doomed to forever turn over and over in the starry skies.
The constellation of Andromeda is best known for the Andromeda Galaxy, M31, one of the most famous objects in the sky, which can most easily be found (it can be seen even with the unaided eye once you get away from a light polluted city) and gives an outstanding view in binoculars and small telescopes.. As it is the nearest spiral galaxy to to our Milky Way, it allows science an huge opportuity to study spiral galaxy structure and evolution.. Larger telescopes can easily see two satellite galaxies of M31 as well, elliptical galaxies M32 (half a degree south) and M110 ( located one degree northwest). Both are well within range of 4″ telescopes.
For binoculars, the stars of the open star cluster NGC 752 is also an easy target in Andromeda. Containing about 100 member stars scattered over a large area and ranging between magnitudes between 9 and 10, NGC 752 is located near star 56 Andromeda. Other interesting and easy telescopic targets include planetary nebula NGC 7662 and colorful binary star, Gamma Andromeda – Almach.
Andromeda also has a meteor shower associated with it. The peak period for the Andromedids is around August 31. Its radiant is near Cassiopeia. Occasionally this shower is known spectacular, but the fall rate is usually 20 per hour. There are some red fireballs with trails. Biela’s Comet is the associated parent comet responsible for the meteoroid stream.
Andromeda Chart Courtesy of Your Sky