focal length to photograph andromeda galaxy

To photograph Andromeda galaxy, you need a lens with a focal length of 800mm to 2000mm for newer cameras, or about 1,000 mm for older digital SLRs. The exact focal range needed depends on how far away you will be from the Andromeda galaxy when you take the photo. A better quality camera may have manual controls which allow you more precise exposure settings than automatic and semi-automatic modes.

When photographing the Andromeda galaxy, you will want to use a longer focal length. This will allow you to get more of the Milky Way in your shot, while still showing detail in Andromeda. The general rule of thumb is that if you want all of Andromeda in your photo, you’ll want a focal length of somewhere between 17mm and 23mm, depending on your camera.

Andromeda Galaxy (M31): How to Photograph with a DSLR Camer

Andromeda Galaxy is one of the most popular fall astrophotography targets worldwide, and no wonder! It’s beautiful, bright, and easy to locate in the night sky. If you are a complete beginner in the astrophotography field, but you would love to take a picture of our neighboring galaxy using a DSLR/mirrorless camera and a telephoto lens or a telescope, here you have the complete guide to photographing the Andromeda Galaxy. P.S. If you are looking for more beginner-friendly astrophotography targets, check out my free astrophotography ebook.

Andromeda Galaxy Facts

Is Andromeda the closest galaxy to the Milky Way?

The Andromeda galaxy is our nearest spiral galaxy neighbor, but the closest galaxy in general to our own is the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy. Also, the M31 is one of the brightest objects in the night sky, which means that you can photograph it very fast (in minutes, not hours).

Can Andromeda Galaxy be seen from Earth?

Yes, even with naked eyes, if you are in a dark place (outside of the city). A pair of good astronomy binoculars is helpful but not mandatory.

ObjectAndromeda galaxy
Object typeSpiral galaxy
Other namesM31, Messier 31, NGC 224
RA (right ascension)00h 42m 44.3s
DEC (declination)+41° 16′ 9″
Angular size178 × 63 arcmin
Age10 billion years

How to Find the Andromeda Galaxy (Location on Sky)

The M31 is located in the constellation Andromeda, close to Perseus and Cassiopeia. Finding it is quite easy as the M31 is visible to the naked eye (outside of the city). You can easily observe the Andromeda Galaxy using binoculars.

If you are not familiar with the night sky, then I recommend you to use software that will help you in locating astronomical objects. For iPhone and iPad users, I have my astronomy apps for iPhone compilation. If you are not an Apple user, then you can use some multi-platform apps like Stellarium.

Andromeda Galaxy Visibility During the Year

The M31 is close to the Polaris, which means it’s visible almost all year! Yet the best time to photograph it in the Northern Hemisphere is from late Summer to Winter when the galaxy is high in the sky. Generally, the lower the designated photography object is in the sky, the more work you will have in post-processing and the worse effects you will have. Higher objects in the sky = less atmosphere and less light pollution. So reserve some time from August to December and shoot the Andromeda galaxy then.

Andromeda Galaxy Through a Telephoto Lens

The biggest surprise for a lot of people is you don’t need to use a telescope to photograph the Andromeda Galaxy! Of course, if you have a small refractor scope, you can use it, and the final picture resolution will be higher. But to reveal some details of the Andromeda Galaxy, the only piece of optics you need is a telephoto lens!

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