We've all seen the telescope photographs of andromeda galaxy: enter image description here

I'm wondering if it were possible to travel close enough to the andromeda galaxy could you achieve a same perspective with the naked eye? What distance away from andromeda would give you the same vantage point as the photograph to the point that you could take the same photograph with a regular point and shoot camera?

I assume you would be in intergalactic space between andromeda and the milky way.

On that note, if you were halfway between the two, would you be able to clearly make out both galaxies in their entirety or would you simply see 2 points of light that more resemble stars than galaxies?

  • $\begingroup$ You seem to be assuming that you can't see Andromeda because it's too small. The reason you can't see it is because it's too dim. $\endgroup$
    – Shep
    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ Not too dim for the naked eye, and especially not for a camera. I have taken decent pictures of Andromeda with a Nikon camera with a regular lense and long exposure. $\endgroup$
    – Kphysics
    Apr 17, 2019 at 22:04

2 Answers 2


Andromeda is bigger than the Moon, it's just too dark to see with the naked eye.

enter image description here Source: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap061228.html

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    $\begingroup$ It should be pointed out that the image is a composite. Andromeda shows clearly in this image because it's from a long exposure shot. If the moon had been taken with the same exposure it would wash out. $\endgroup$
    – Taemyr
    Jul 3, 2014 at 8:54

Well, First off, you can see the Andromeda galaxy with your naked eye from a dark place on a clear night. You should try it if you can. It looks like a smudge of appreciable size, not like a point. So half way between the Milky way and Andromeda, both would look like smudges twice as wide as Andromeda does from earth. I think a standard point and shoot camera is slightly better than the naked eye, but not a whole lot. The other way to think about it is to consider the power of the lens used to take the picture. Telescopes are usually between 10 and 100 power, although more is possible. A point and shoot is usually 1-3X I think. The naked eye is 1X of course. But long exposures "see" much more than the naked eye. So to get 10X you would need to be 90% of the way to Andromeda so the remaing distance is 1/10th of the way to Andromeda, to get 33X power equivalent, you would need to be 97% of the way to Andromeda, etc. I am guessing you would see some structure at 10X, particularly with a long exposure from space, but to get the equivalent of the truly excellent pictures you see on the web or in astronomy magazines you might have to go to 33X or even 100X. For 100X you would have to go 99% of the way to Andromeda. Again, your point and shoot with a long exposure is probably three to ten times better than your naked eye.

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    $\begingroup$ power reduces by inverse square of distance, there is at best a lot of ambiguity in this answer $\endgroup$
    – Nic
    Mar 14, 2012 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ Note that using a point and shoot camera for very long exposure works, compared to using it on earth, extremely well in that remote place. The main obstacle with long term exposure is the thermal noise that adds up over time, and depends on the sensor temperature. The sensor is cooled extremely well in that place, as it's very far from any stars. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2018 at 16:56

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