You all know this one ... Andromeda is the nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way (approx 2.5 million ly away), and similar to ours in size and structure. It's huge -- even at that distance it appears about 6 full moons across.
M31 is so bright that it can be seen with the naked eye from dark skies, and I regularly catch it through binoculars even from downtown Toronto.
She also has a couple of companion galaxies -- M32 is the small one above it, and M110 is the elliptical one below it.
All of the (non-galaxy) stars in this field are part of our Milky Way, and relatively nearby -- positioned between us and the distant galaxies. Think of it as if you're looking through snowflakes at a distant object.
Details for astronerds:
L:R:G:B combine (minutes) = 80:25:25:35
FSQ-85 and STL11000M
Taken from dark skies near Havelock, Ontario, Canada on August 6, 2010.
Thanks for looking,