Three UK Dark Sky Places
@gallowayforest - SW Scotland Home Webpage
@Sark_Island - Channel islands Home Webpage
@ExmoorNP - SW England Home Webpage
Twitter: @IDADarkSky @DarkSkyPark
Our Sun and
all the stars visible in the night sky are members of a vast aggregation of
stars known as the Galaxy (given a
capital G to distinguish it from any other galaxy). Our Galaxy is spiral in
shape, with arms composed of stars and nebulae
winding outwards from a central bulge of stars. It is about 100,000 light years
in diameter; the Sun lies in a spiral arm 30,000
light years from the Galaxy's centre. Astronomers estimate that the Galaxy
contains some250,000 million stars.
Most of the stars in the
Galaxy lie in a disk about 2000 light years thick. Seen from our position within
the Galaxy, this disk
of stars appears as a faint, hazy band crossing the sky on clear, dark nights.
We call this band the Milky Way, and the name
Milky Way is often used for our entire Galaxy. The starfields of the Milky Way
are particularly dense in the region of
Sagittarius, which is the direction of the Galaxy's centre.
Countless other galaxies are dotted like islands in the Universe as far as the largest telescopes can see. Most galaxies are members of clusters containing up to thousands of galaxies. Our own Milky Way is the second-largest member of a small cluster of some three dozen galaxies known as the Local Group.
The largest galaxy in the Local Group is visible to the naked eye as a fuzzy, elongated patch in the constellation Andromeda. The Andromeda Galaxy is estimated to contain about twice as many stars as our own Galaxy, and to be about 25 per cent greater in diameter. It lies about 2.5 million light years away. Long-exposure photographs reveal that the Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral, but tilted so that we see it almost edge-on. One day Andromeda Galaxy will join our Galaxy.
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Info Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer.
It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.
Just set your coordinates and go.
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