The Milky Way


The Sun, along with all the other stars we can see, is located in the Milky Way Galaxy. This disc shaped galaxy is roughly 100,000 light years in diameter and about 13,000 light years thick, and is home to over a 300 million suns.

Our solar system is located about two-thirds of the way out from the center. Looking up at the night sky, in the direction of the Milky Way, we are looking through our galaxy edgewise. The misty band of illumination we see is actually the combined light of thousands of stars.

By default, Starry Night displays a band of deep blue color as a guide indicating the extent of the Milky Way. To turn this display on or off, click on the Milky Way button on the Display palette, or by select it from the Display menu. Because Starry Night includes the entire Hubble Guide Star Catalog of over 19,000,000 objects it is possible to show a much more realistic view of the Milky Way (see picture above). To show the Milky Way in this fashion you must change the number of stars that are shown by Starry Night in a typical view, by selecting "Magnitudes" from the Settings menu.

Milky Way Options

To change the color which is used to show the Milky Way boundary open the Options dialog by selecting "Options..." from the Settings menu, then pick "Milky Way" from the popup menu. Alternatively, click the options button for the Milky Way in the Display palette.

Show Milky Way: This checkbox duplicates the function of the Milky way command in the Display Menu. Checking the box will display the Milky Way.

Hide While Scrolling: To improve performance, you can check this box so that the Milky Way is turned off while scrolling.

Hide Milky Way At High Magnifications: Checking this box will turn off the Milky Way at high magnifications ( any magnification higher than 25).

Set Color: By clicking on this button, you can select a new color for the Milky Way.

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Page last modified on: January 25, 1999