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Thread: What area of the Milky Way do we see?

  1. #1
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    What area of the Milky Way do we see?

    When we look at the band of the Milky Way, what portion of it are we looking at? Are we looking inward towards the galactic core and seeing the Sagittarius Arm? I've tried to figure this out for myself by looking at various images of the galaxy but haven't found a image/map that I'm sure of. This image was somewhat helpful: http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/5000lys.html But it seems like I need to know where some of the stars in the constellation Sagittarius are on a map like this to see the relationship and I haven't found one. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    The center of the Milky Way is between Scorpio and Sagittarius. You can still see the milky way somewhat dimly when you look at Cassiopeia, which is in the opposite direction. If you click Zoom out on that map you linked to, it helps explain the rest.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  3. #3
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    Thanks. I'm very new to this and didn't realize that, on this map from the same site http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/250lys.html, Sgr refers to Sagittarius. Got it!

  4. #4
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    The galactic center is in Sagittarius, to the upper right of the spout in the Teapot asterism and near the boundary junction with Scorpius and Ophiuchus. Here is a simple star chart that shows where the galactic center is located: https://earthsky.org/favorite-star-p...alactic-center (just scroll down a bit). The nearest Messier Object is the open cluster M6, which is about 3.5 south-ish of the galactic center. M6 is bright enough see with the unaided eye under dark skies, and even sometimes under suburban skies. Of course, you can't actually see the galactic center because it's well behind intervening dust, gas, stars, and candy (all Milky Way bars, of course ).

    To locate the galactic center point more precisely, you need to consult a detailed star atlas:
    Paper atlases -- The Galactic Center is labeled in Chart 18 in Wil Tirion's Cambridge Star Atlas, Chart 67 in Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas, Chart 22 in Wil Tirion's SkyAtlas 2000.0, Chart 79 in Stoyan & Schurig's Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas, and certainly others as well.
    Downloadable PDF atlases -- The galactic center is NOT shown in The AAVSO Variable Star Atlas, the three versions of TriAtlas (A, B, and C; with A being the smallest scale and least detailed and C being the largest scale and most detailed), the Toshimi Taki Star Atlas, the Mag7 Star Atlas, the EyesOnTheSky Star Atlas, and the DeepSkyWatch.com Deep Sky Atlas. However, DeepSkyWatch.com's more detailed Deep Sky Hunter Sky Atlas DOES show the galactic Center. Regardless, these are all good sky atlases and they are free to download.
    Software -- I did not see the galactic center in Cartes du Ciel or SkyTools 3, but it might be in Stellarium (which I don't have loaded on this computer) or other programs.
    iPhone apps -- I found the galactic center marked in Starmap Pro, but not SkySafari Pro.

    I hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Thank you. This helps a lot. I've found the Milky Way in rather poor light conditions by first finding Sagittarius so I can visualize where this is from that chart. yay!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatK View Post
    When we look at the band of the Milky Way, what portion of it are we looking at? Are we looking inward towards the galactic core and seeing the Sagittarius Arm?
    When we look at the night sky, the direction that we're looking into space varies throughout the night (because the Earth is rotating on its axis) and throughout the year (because the Earth is revolving around the sun). When you look at the Milky Way in the direction of Sagittarius, you're looking towards the center of the galaxy. But when you look at the Milky Way towards Auriga, you're looking in the exact opposite direction of the core of the Milky Way (sometimes this is referred to as the galactic anticenter).

  7. #7
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    Nov 2020
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    Interesting, thanks. I'd never heard of Auriga and had to look it up.

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