As Far As The Eye Can See


Behold: the most distant celestial object easily visible to the unaided eye – M31, the great Andromeda Galaxy, over two million light-years away. To wit:

Without a telescope, even this immense spiral galaxy appears as an unremarkable, faint, nebulous cloud in the constellation Andromeda. But a bright yellow nucleus, dark winding dust lanes, luminous blue spiral arms, and bright red emission nebulas are recorded in this stunning six-hour telescopic digital mosaic of our closest major galactic neighbour. While even casual skygazers are now inspired by the knowledge that there are many distant galaxies like M31, astronomers seriously debated this fundamental concept only 100 years ago. Were these “spiral nebulae” simply outlying gas clouds in our own Milky Way Galaxy or were they “island universes” — distant galaxies of stars comparable to the Milky Way itself? This question was central to the famous Shapley-Curtis debate of 1920, which was later resolved by observations favouring Andromeda being just like our Milky Way Galaxy — a conclusion making the rest of the universe much more vast than many had ever imagined.

(ImageAmir H. Abolfath (TWAN))


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4 thoughts on “As Far As The Eye Can See

  1. Slightly Bemused

    The Shapley-Curtis debate was the 1920s version of “small – far away” :)

    I never got to turn my own telescope on Andromeda, but the photos have always fascinated me.

  2. bisted

    …it’s mathematically probable that somewhere in there there is a planet identical to here…with a broadsheet and commenters…where LJG is universally loved…

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