AS NOVEMBER begins this is the best time of the year to see one of the most fascinating objects in the night sky - the Andromeda Galaxy, M31, writes STUART ATKINSON.

Our Sun is just one star in the Milky Way galaxy, an enormous spiral of around 200 billion stars which is spinning slowly and gracefully as it flies through the universe, taking around 250 million years to rotate once. But it's not the only galaxy, it's just one of billions of galaxies in the universe, and we can see thousands of them in the night sky through telescopes. A handful are bright enough to be seen with the naked eye as misty patches in the sky, and M31 is the best one in the northern sky.

Finding M31 is quite easy. At around 9pm, when it's nice and dark, just go out and face the south. Halfway up in the sky you'll spot a large square of stars, all of around the same brightness. This is the Great Square of Pegasus, and if you look to the upper left of the star in its top left corner you'll see, out of the corner of your eye, a small, hazy smudge: that's it, that's M31, the Andromeda Galaxy.

What you're seeing when you look at M31 is another galaxy, twice the size of our own Milky Way perhaps, that is more than two million light years away. That makes it the most distant object most people can see with their naked eye. If you can't make it out don't worry, look for it with binoculars and it will pop into view.