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Galactic Hyperbole

Dean Watson

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Just got to thinking the other night.  Now as we all know M31 Andromeda Galaxy is due to collide with our own in around 4 billion years.  We often see in writings and TV on the subject the strong implication that this would be spectacular (albeit drawn out, I mean we're not talking any actual stellar collisions here, or at least very very rarely) in the skies of a future Earth (barring whatever happens to the Sun, Earths atmosphere etc etc).  But would it?  Our own galaxy, that we're in is not exactly a spectacular lightshow beyond a few close stars and hint of 'milky way'.  Also, M31 is what, 2.5 to 3 degrees across in the sky and still barely visible.  Given this, would we even especially notice any particular fireworks at it were? (other than of course increased star formation from stirred nebulae etc).

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The rate that light pollution is increasing, long before we collide with Andromeda we'll barely notice a first magnitude star in a rural area, so if the collision doubles or triples the size and brightness of the current Milky Way band nobody will notice or care.


Seriously though, I would have thought that if all things remained equal, then at some point in time there would be at least a doubling of the average number of stars visible in the night sky and more fuzzy Milky Way effect. I think the view woul probably be less drastic than what you might gain moving from the average urban back yard to a dark sky site. I'm sure it would be a very nice view with at least double the DSO's on your target list. :thumbsup:

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