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Andromeda Galaxy, M31

The next closest big galaxy to Earth’s is the Andromeda Galaxy, M31. If you know where to look, you can catch glimpses of the Andromeda Galaxy from light-polluted skies, but you can see it best when it’s darker overhead.

The Andromeda Galaxy should look like a cigar-shaped smudge to your naked eyes. Through a good pair of binoculars or a telescope you can see more detail; perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of the Andromeda Galaxy’s nearby companion galaxies, M31 and M110, or even see dark dust lanes within the main galaxy itself.

Remember that what you’re looking at is a galaxy that’s even bigger than the Milky Way, containing perhaps a trillion (1,000,000,000,000) stars. Aliens living on a planet orbiting a star in the Andromeda Galaxy would look up into their night sky and see a faint Andromeda-like smudge, too – our Milky Way galaxy seen from 2.5 million light years away.

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