Messier 32 – Satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy

Observation Notes:

This circular galaxy lies about a half degree south of the core of M31. Its luminous profile has a stellar core to it. In the 10 mm eyepiece, the south edge of the galaxy seems to be sharper than the north edge.


M32 is a bright, compact satellite to the huge Andromeda Galaxy. M32 is 8000 light years in diameter, and lies between us and M31. Relative to our galaxy, M32 is approximately stationary, which means it is approaching M31, which is in turn approaching us. Unlike the other large Andromeda satellite, M110, M32 contains no globular clusters or other obvious internal structures. Its stellar population, nucleus size, and compactness indicate, indicate that M32 was possibly a much larger elliptical galaxy once, but lost its outer stars and globular clusters in one or more close encounters with M31. That M32 has undergone a close encounter with M31 is suggested because it apparently left disturbances in the large galaxy’s spiral arms. M32 was the first elliptical galaxy ever discovered by Le Gentil in 1749. Charles Messier first noted it in 1757, and cataloged it in 1764.

Subject M32/NGC 221
Classification Elliptical Galaxy
Position Andromeda [RA: 00:42.7 / Dec: +40:52]*
Size* 8′ x 6′
Brightness* 8.1
Date/Time 10/4/04 – 10:25 PM
Observing Loc. Flagstaff, AZ – Home
Instrument Orion SVP 6LT Reflector (150 mm dia./1200 mm F/L)
Eyepieces/Mag. 32 mm (37X); 10 mm EP (120X)
Seeing 4/10
Transparency Mag 5

* Based on published data.

4 Replies to “Messier 32 – Satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy”

  1. I’ve seen on various other websites that it is often referred to as ‘Le Gentil Galaxy’.

  2. Good call–that does seem to be the case. Since it was the first elliptical galaxy discovered and done so by Le Gentil, it seems appropriate. Thanks for the comment.

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