Andromeda Galaxy (M-31)
The Great Andromeda Galaxy flies high in the western sky in February and March, near the right elbow of Andromeda, the “Woman Chained”. It is the nearest of all the spiral galaxies and is the only one bright enough to be easily seen with the naked eye. Andromeda and our Milky Way Galaxy are the two largest members of the “Local Group” of galaxies, the two to three dozen galaxies clustered together within a diameter of 10 million light years. According to Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, it can appear as wide as 4 degrees in binoculars (the Full Moon is 0.5 degrees in diameter). Recent measurements revise its distance from 2 million to 2.9 million light years.

In “Star Names”, R. H. Allen concludes that it was called “Little Cloud” by Persian astronomeAl Sufi in 986 AD, and was described as similar to “the diluted light of a candle shining through a horn” by the first telescopic observer, Simon Marius, in 1612.