Astrophotographer André van der Hoeven has captured a spectacular image of our beautiful neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. A 9.6-hour exposure and post-processing reveal Andromeda’s luster and enchantment. How would our own galaxy, the Milky Way, look from there? Most likely we would be a stellar sight, proudly shimmering throughout our galactic center, central bar, and spiral arms.
Can it be that Andromeda and the Milky Way will merge in 4 billion years? That a gap of 2.5 million light-years will be closed? During the slow cosmic tug, how will Andromeda appear in 1, 2 or 3 billion years? How much of Earth’s sky will it cover?
As a teenager, my first naked-eye sighting of the small fuzzy disk of Andromeda in the night sky was truly arresting. Not another star, but a galaxy far away from our own. Far from all the stars we see, far through deep dark space was another island of stars.