How to find the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) the farthest object visible with the unaided eye

The Triangulum Galaxy, also known as Messier 33, is a great galaxy to observe after you have observed the nearby Andromeda Galaxy. In fact, it is sometimes described as the farthest object visible to the naked eye, although excellent viewing conditions are required.

As it is also close to Andromeda it is easy to find and is very beautiful with a fantastic spiral structure, which has caused it to be given the nickname the pinwheel galaxy.

The Triangulum Galaxy is approximately 2.7 million light-years from our own Milky Way there is also a third largest member of our local Group of galaxies, which consists of several dozen galaxies. Our Milky Way the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy are the largest members of our local group of galaxies although there is some speculation that the Triangulum Galaxy is in fact a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy.

How to find M33?

Click to enlarge the M33 star chart
To find the Triangulum Galaxy it is best to find the Andromeda Galaxy as mentioned in this article and once you found that you can head down past the small star Mu of the Andromeda constellation and onto the bright star Mirach.

Then carry on about double the distance between these two stars and you should come across the Triangulum Galaxy also known as M33, located just above the Triangulum Constellation.

The Triangulum Galaxy is 15 times dimmer than the Andromeda Galaxy. Because it has much lower surface brightness it makes it difficult to see the spiral galaxies in binoculars or a telescope. It will often appear as a small blob in a pair of binoculars. Although through a telescope eyepiece it will look much better.

To try and improve the contrast I would use a medium powered eyepiece when looking at this galaxy.

While light pollution filters may help, they are useless if you have a small telescope. Some observers with large telescopes use a light blue 82A filter to observe galaxies because it helps suppress the natural glow of the upper atmosphere.

If you would like to see what the Triangulum Galaxy looks like through the eyepiece as well as a long exposure image then please watch the below episode.


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