The NGC 891 galaxy, in the constellation of Andromeda, is a dazzling galaxy showstopper and has affectionately been dubbed the “Silver Sliver” due to its needle-thin appearance in our sky.
NGC 891 is located around about an astounding 30 million light-years from Earth. Now, light-years measure the distance light travels in one year, and since light zips along at about 671 million mph (that’s speed-of-light fast!), you can bet that’s quite the spatial stretch!
“If we wanted to travel to NGC 891, how long would it take us?” you might wonder. Ah, if only we could ride on a beam of light!
Unfortunately, our current spacecraft are somewhat more… leisurely.
Take the New Horizons probe, the speedster of human-made objects, which zips along at a brisk 36,000 mph.
Even at that pace, it would take us over 24 million years to reach NGC 891. So, bring a big lunch with you – it’s going to take a while!
But why is NGC 891 so interesting to astronomers and dreamers alike? The answer is in its orientation.
Unlike the Milky Way, which we see face-on, NGC 891 is edge-on from our viewpoint here on Earth. This orientation offers a profile view of its disc, a spectacular side of galactic anatomy that showcases its striking dust lanes and high-flying stars. I
t’s like having front-row seats to an intergalactic fashion show, where the galaxy struts its stuff down the cosmic runway in full celestial regalia.
While a trip to NGC 891 is not on the horizon for human travellers just yet, we’re fortunate to have our powerful telescopes that act like mighty cosmic zoom lenses, bringing the wonders of the universe to our doorsteps.
Through them, we can revel in the beauty of the Silver Sliver and countless other cosmic spectacles.
So here’s to the galaxies far, far away, and the dreams they inspire in all of us!