In the summer of 2020, the world was enthralled with the Comet Neowise, which only makes an appearance every 6,800 years. Brennan Gilmore was so enthralled that it kicked off a passion for astrophotography that continues today. Two years after beginning his journey photographing the stars, he has accomplished a major goal: photographing the Andromeda galaxy.
Our neighbor in the sky, Andromeda is a spiral galaxy similar to our own Milky Way. Sitting 2.5 million light-years away, it remains a bright spot in the atmosphere and was something that Gilmore first photographed two years ago. However, it took him some time to build up the skills and acquire the equipment to achieve an image he was happy with. The final result was well worth the wait, as the image went viral after he posted it online and even ended up in Newsweek.
Gilmore captured the stunning image from his backyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the course of several nights. Using a four-inch telescope and astronomy camera, he took hundreds of photos of Andromeda. From there, he carefully culled his images, using only the very best for the final photograph.
In the end, all of his efforts paid off. The final photo, created from 290 individual frames, is incredibly detailed. Many of Andromeda's one trillion stars are visible through its gas halo. Gilmore thought of every detail, including the exposure so that even the core of the galaxy isn't overexposed. This allows viewers to drink in the stars and ponder on this far away neighbor, which is actually headed toward our own galaxy.
For Gilmore, seeing his Andromeda photo get widespread recognition is a beautiful end to a long journey. “It felt great to have the public appreciate and feel inspired by a photo which was essentially years in the making. Hopefully, it inspires people to try to photograph space, or at least spend some time under the stars.”