Peering up from the cottage deck in Muskoka, the heavens are revealed through the crisp autumn sky. That glowing disc in the center is our nearest galactic neighbour – Andromeda. In about 3.74 billion years it will collide with our Milky Way galaxy in one of the most spectacular cosmic mergers the universe has ever seen.
Andromeda is amongst the largest galaxies in our Local Group, home to about 1 trillion stars (that’s more than double the number of stars in our galaxy). As the light hits my camera, we begin to see dust lanes spiraling around the galactic core – A super massive black hole. M110, Andromeda’s satellite galaxy floats faintly below to the left.
Spinning gracefully in a dark corner of the night sky: the Pinwheel Galaxy. This spectacular display originates from a time before mankind had discovered fire.