101 space objects to see: NGC 891

Edge galaxies are relatively common among the thousands visible across the sky. Many even sport dusty bands that separate their galactic planes, adding visual intrigue. One such galaxy is NGC 891 in Andromeda.

Finding NGC 891 is not difficult. Start with Almach (Gamma [γ] Andromedae) and move your telescope to 31/2 ° east. The Silver Sliver Galaxy, also known as NGC 891, is in a rich star field, which adds to its visual aesthetics.

At magnitude 10.8, this galaxy is visible with a telescope less than 3 inches under excellent sky – but only. Six-inch or larger optics are better, and with a 12-inch or larger range with dark skies, the spiral disc begins to receive positive superlatives beyond: “Yes, here it is.” The thickness of the dark nebulae of this galaxy reduces its visual contrast with the background sky, making it harder to see than a galaxy with dust-free edges. Using aperture is a definite advantage here, so try moving the telescope or scanning the field by keeping the galaxy out of the corner of your eye.

NGC 891 is classified as Sb, similar to the Andromeda Galaxy (M31; see # 100). Because he is on the edge, astronomers cannot determine the structure of his hand. Is it more M31 or M81? We will never know. The Hubble Space Telescope shows that the dust and gas of NGC 891 are distributed in multiple strands, like fingers extending above and below the galaxy’s equator. Researchers suggest that these strands were created by a combination of supernovae and the formation of energetic massive stars. The bilateral symmetry of NGC 891 shows that it has not collided with another large galaxy in billions of years.

Other trivia: Hollywood finds the image of the galaxy so fascinating that it appears in the series of titles of The Outer Limits – among other objects described in the history of Astronomy from June 2019 “The Outer Limits Universe”. The soundtrack to John Carpenter’s 1974 film Dark Star includes a song called “When Twilight Falls on NGC 891.” That same year, Edgar Froze released an album that included the song “NGC 891”.


Don’t forget to research On astronomy a complete list of 101 space objects to see. New records will be added every week in 2022.

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