The Milky Way

  • Michael D. Inglis
Part of the Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy Series book series (PATRICKMOORE)


Most of us are familiar with the Milky Way. We may be lucky enough to live in a dark location and can see the misty band of light that stretches across the sky (see Figure 1.1). Others may live in an urban location and so can only glimpse the Milky way as a faint hazy patch that envelops several constellations. But how many of us make a point of observing the Milky Way as a celestial object in its own right? Very few I imagine, which is a pity as it holds a plethora of wonderful delights, ranging from deeply colored double and multiple star systems to immense glowing clouds of gas and mysterious dark nebulae which literally blacken the sky. It also holds quite a few star clusters that really do look like diamonds sprinkled on black velvet, not to mention the occasional neutron star, black hole and possible extra-solar planetary system! In fact, you could spend an entire career observing the Milky Way.


Great Barrier Reef Star Cluster Light Pollution Celestial Object Clear Night 
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  1. 1.
    There are a few objects that can be observed that are actually located outside of the Milky Way (and I don’t mean galaxies!).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The boundary I use is also the one adopted by the International Astronomical Union.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    There are exceptions to this, as described in the text.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    I had quite a detaild correspondence with several amateur astronomers form the UK, Australia and the USA about how to present the data, and this method was the most of them preferred.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    P. Cinzano, F. Falchi, CD. Elvidge. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 328, 689–707 (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Inglis
    • 1
  1. 1.FRASState University of New YorkUSA

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