Explanation: As far as ghosts go, Mirach’s Ghost isn’t really that scary. In fact, Mirach’s Ghost is just a faint, fuzzy galaxy, well known to astronomers, that happens to be seen nearly along the line-of-sight to Mirach, a bright star. Centered in this star field, Mirach is also called Beta Andromedae. About 200 light-years distant, Mirach is a red giant star, cooler than the Sun but much larger and so intrinsically much brighter than our parent star. In most telescopic views, glare and diffraction spikes tend to hide things that lie near Mirach and make the faint, fuzzy galaxy look like a ghostly internal reflection of the almost overwhelming starlight. Still, appearing in this sharp image just above and to the right of Mirach, Mirach’s Ghost is cataloged as galaxy NGC 404 and is estimated to be some 10 million light-years away.
Mirach’s ghost is, in itself, not a very interesting galaxy. A small plain looking E-S0 type galaxy. However, its postion about 7 arc minutes from the 2nd magnitude M0 star beta And – known as Mirach – makes it into an interesting photographic target.
I am Monica Salcedo McGee, known for being a fiercely outspoken atheist, on this site, and on Twitter and Google Plus. I am a humanist, a freethinker, a rationalist, and an egalitarian. I am married to Joshua McGee (@McGeekiest). I also occasionally write over at gawd.me.
I am a secular humanist. I rely on reason to understand the world, and compassion guides my effort to apply my knowledge ethically. I behave decently to everyone without any expectation of rewards or punishment after I'm dead.