The Andromeda Galaxy takes center stage in this spectacular image captured by an amateur astronomer during a holiday stargazing session.
Astrophotographer Jeff Johnson took advantage of some clear night skies and holiday leave to capture this remarkable view of the Andromeda Galaxy from Las Cruces, N.M.
"In December — after 6 months of poor weather here in Las Cruces (March to September) — I was able to get out during a week of leave I had from work," Johnson wrote SPACE.com in an email. [See more amazing Andromeda Galaxy]
Johnson created the image from Andromeda observations recorded on Dec. 6 and 15. He used a Takahashi FS-60C @ f/6.2 telescope, Takahashi EM200 Temma II mount, QSI 540wsg @ -15C camera, with Astrodon Ha (3nm), Astrodon Tru-Balance I-Series LRGB Gen 2 filters and SX Lodestar guider. A version of the image that switches between Ha and non-Ha can be found on Johnson's website here.
The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 (M31),is located 2.5 million light-years from our own Milky Way. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Our closest neighbor, M31 contains hundreds of billions of stars and is visible with the naked eye. Together, the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies.
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo or video that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.