How to identify Andromeda galaxy and Andromeda constellation

Andromeda galaxy also known as M31 is the brightest galaxy in the night sky. It has an apparent magnitude of 3.44. Hence it can be easily seen even without the aid of any optical device. Although if you want a good view of the galaxy then i would suggest the use of a good binoculars rather than a telescope. Now locating Andromeda can be a little tricky but if you know the night sky well enough then you can use other constellations to reach Andromeda.
Now lets start by locating Taurus, this is a fairly easy constellation to locate as it lies right next to Orion. All you have to do is extend the belt of Orion in the direction of Mintaka and you would reach Aldebaran which is the alpha star of Taurus. Since Taurus is a zodiac constellation we know that it has to lie on the ecliptic. If we go down the ecliptic the first constellation that we get is Aries followed by a very faint constellation Pieces. Andromeda constellation lies between Pieces and Cassiopeia. The other way is by imagining Cassiopeia as a huge "M". Where Andromeda lies directly above the giant "M". The picture below would make it easier to understand.

Andromeda constellation consists of 16 main star although there are around 7 bright stars which form the recognizable crooked "V" shape of the constellation. So lets focus on these 7 stars. The star at the base of the crooked "V" is known as Alpheratz which is shared by both Andromeda and Pegasus constellation. Although it is considered as the alpha star of Andromeda. 
(The crooked "V" shape of Andromeda)

Now we have spotted Andromeda galaxy along with its alpha star. In order to locate the galaxy we first have to locate the star Mirach which is the 3rd star from Alpheratz. Opposite Mirach is another star called Mew Andromeda. The Andromeda galaxy is located right next to this star. At first the galaxy appears as a foggy white patch. Infact it might not even look like a proper galaxy but if you use a pair of good binoculars then you should be able to spot the arms of the galaxy and also its satellite galaxy known as M32.

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Comets in 2014

(Comet Holmes after it's outburst in 2007)

An awesome year is just about to come to an end. We saw quite a few comets this year. But 2014 would also be quite amazing as far as comets are concerned. Here's a list of few of the comets that you should look out for.

Comet Holmes (27th March 2014) :- This one is a periodic comet that was last seen in October 2007. What makes this one special is that last time when we saw this comet it had an unexpected outburst. It's magnitude had suddenly and unexpectedly changed from 17 to 2.8 in a period of 48 hours. At one point in time it was difficult to observe even from a telescope and suddenly within a span of two days it became bright enough to be seen by the naked eyes.

Comet 209P/Linear (6th May 2014) :- This is also another periodic comet that was last seen on 3rd Feb 2004. The Earth would pass through the tail of the comet so hopefully it should be visible. What makes this one special is that as the Earth passes through it's tail it would cause a meteor storm producing 100 - 400 meteors per hour. The meteor shower would mainly be visible in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

Comet 4P/Faye (29th May 2014) :- Another periodic comet but not as exciting as the above two. The expected magnitude of this comet would be around 12.5.

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding spring (25th Oct. 2014) :- This comet would probably be invisible to the naked eye but what makes this one so exciting is that it would get extremely close to the planet Mars. Infact there is 1 of 1,20,000 chance that it would hit Mars on the 19th October. Kinda reminds me of the comet Shoemaker

This is just the basic information that i have as far as comets are concerned. I'll keep updating my blog as soon as i get more info....

How to identify Capricornus

Basic facts about Capricornus
  • Capricornus is not really a goat, It's half goat and half fish
  • It is the second faintest zodiac sign after cancer hence it's quite difficult to observe
  • The brightest star in Capricornus is Deneb Algedi which has an apparent magnitude of 2.85
            Where is it located?
Being a zodiac sign it's located on the ecliptic. It lies between Sagittarius and Aquarius and is surrounded by Aquila, Microscopium and Piscis Austrinus. Now if you are Starring at that part of the sky then you would notice few constellations that would stand out like Scorpius and Sagittarius that have relatively bright stars. The other thing that you would notice is Formalhaut which is the brightest star of Piscis Austrinus. Now if you follow the ecliptic you would first get Scorpius, Sagittarius then a patch of sky with really faint star followed by Aquarius. Now it's this patch of faint stars that we need to look at. First of all search for the brightest star amongst the faint patch. That star would be Deneb Algedi which is also the delta star of the constellation. Now you can imagine this constellation to be like a giant "V" or like a crooked triangle and Deneb Algedi is one of its vertex. The next brightest star is Beta Cap. which has a magnitude of 3.05 which forms the star close to the other vertex. The third brightest star is alpha 2 cap. this star is right next to the Beta cap. Once you find these three stars the rest of the constellation should be a little more easier to spot provided you have a clear sky.
The red line shown in the picture is the ecliptic.
Capricornus is not particularly an  exciting constellation as far as deep sky objects are concerned. but the one object that's worth observing is the M30. It has an apparent magnitude of 7.7 hence you would require an optical aid to view this object. It is a globular star cluster.


Other comets in 2013

Lovejoy (C/2013 R1)
This comet as of November 7th was spotted close to the Beehive cluster in the Cancer constellation with an apparent magnitude of 6.3. So it is visible through a small telescope or binoculars on a clear night.After November 19th the comet would be close to the Big dipper. It would make it's closest approach to the Sun on 25th December. It's estimated max brightness would be 5.9 from around 21st November to 28th November after which it'll steadily decrease. So this would be the best time to spot this comet. To know the current position of the comet use this link -

Comet Encke(2P/Encke)

Comet Encke is a periodic comet with a period of 3.3 years.It's moving from comma berenices to virgo, libra, scorpius and then ophiucus. It's max brightness would be 7.1 when it's in the constellation of Virgo on 16th November till 20th November then it's brightness would steadily decrease. It's tail is relatively short covering only 3 degrees of the sky. To know the current position of the comet use this link -

I'll keep updating my blog as i get more information on these comets.

comet ISON , 28th November 2013

This comet was discovered on 21st September 2012. It is also known as C/2012 S1. It is a Sun grazing comet which means that it would get extremely close to the surface of the Sun, on 28th November 2013 it would be at a distance of just 0.012 AU or 18,00,000 Km from the center of the Sun . It is also known as the comet of the century because at it's perihelion it's apparent magnitude is predicted to go upto -1.83. But there is a slight problem, at this stage it would be extremely close to the Sun which means that the Sun light might just overpower the light from the comet. I used the software "Stellarium" to look for it's apparent magnitude and this is what i found.
15th October - 9.21 (Apparent mag.), near Regulus
25th October -8.30, below Leo
5th November -6.88,  near Virgo
15th November -5.13,b/w Porrima and Spica
25th November -1.98, in libra
28th Novembar -(-1,83), near Acarb (Scorpius)
So i came to the conclusion that the best time to look for the comet would be right before dawn between 15th to 25th November because it would be bright enough and it wouldn't be that close to the Sun.
(this is the path of the comet before 15th October)
Now before reaching it's perihelion this comet would be bright and easily visible which is a spectacular sight in it self but what makes it even more interesting is that after it reaches it's perihelion it can turn even brighter. Although there is a possibility that it might get destroyed due to the Suns heat. The nucleus of the comet is around 5 Km so in this case we can be a little optimistic. 
(C/2012 S1 as captured by Hubble Space Telescope on 10−11 April 2013)
Not much is known about this comet as of yet. I would keep updating my blog as i get more information on this. Please share this post so that more and more people become aware of this comet. 

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Supermoon 23rd June 2013

What is a Supermoon???
A supermoon is a coincidence of a  new moon or a full moon with the closest approach it makes with the Earth's orbit. This closest point of approach is known as Perigee. At perigee the moon is around 3,57,210 Km away from the Earth whereas at Apogee it's around 4,05,978 Km.
Where to look??? 
First hint look at the moon, but if you want to know the exact location then the moon would be in the constellation of Capricon.
The difference wouldn't be much but it would still be worth watching.
It would occur on June 23 2013 at 11.32 UTC so it wouldn't be visible in most parts at it's Perigee but you can still catch a glimpse of it on 22nd night. The difference wouldn't be much.

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How to identify sagittarius constellation and its' various deep sky objects

As most of you would know the center of our milky way galaxy is in Sagittarius and it also contains many star clusters and nebulae. Although it contains many bright stars it is difficult to imagine the centaur hence the other famous asterism for this constellation is the tea pot. The few bright stars of this constellation are Kaus Australis, Kaus Meridionalis also known as Kaus Media, Nash, Kaus Borealis, Nunki, Ascella, Rukbat.
On the ecliptic it is placed between Scorpius and Capricornus. Above the ecliptic it is surrounded by Aquila, Serpenes Cauda and Scutum. Below the ecliptic there is Corona Australis and Telescopium. It has three relatively bright nebulae The Lagoon Nebula (M 8) ,The Omega Nebula (M 17) both these object have an apparent magnitude of 6.0 and the Trifid Nebula (M 20) it has an apparent magnitude of 6.3. Together these three Nebulas are known as the Sagittarius Triplet.
The Lagoon Nebula (M 8)

The Omega Nebula (M 17)
The Trifid Nebula (M 20) 
Apart from nebulas it also contains numerous star clusters. 
M 22, apparent magnitude- 5.1
M 24, apparent magnitude-4.6, it also contains a faint cluster ngc 6603.
M 28, apparent magnitude- 7.66
Apparent from these and many more objects one can also see the limbs of the milky way galaxy which extends all the way to Scorpius. The picture below shows the exact location of the Messier objects.