When looking up at the night sky, we can sometimes observe a bright band of stars stretching across it. I know this is our galaxy but exactly what are we looking at?

  1. Could we look at the centre of the galaxy or is there another spiral arm blocking our view?
  2. How does our view change as earth rotates around the sun? (E.g. What part of the milky way do we see in a winter night sky)

1 Answer 1


Fraser Cain:

We’re seeing the galaxy edge on, from the inside, and so we see the galactic disk as a band that forms a complete circle around the sky.

Which parts you can see depend on your location on Earth and the time of year, but you can always see some part of the disk.

The galactic core of the Milky Way is located in the constellation Sagittarius, which is located to the South of me in Canada, and only really visible during the Summer. In really faint skies, the Milky Way is clearly thicker and brighter in that region.

If you want to know more, watch this video from Fraser Cain which explains it in details:


You can find your answer in the first minute

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Does it really depend on where you are on earth? $\endgroup$
    – Jaywalker
    Jan 6, 2016 at 17:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It does! I've seen the stars as far south as the equator, where it's much easier to spot the constellations of the zodiac without bending your head at weird angles. I found this map that shows the inclinations of the constellations at the poles: michellesmosaic.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/star-map.gif $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2016 at 21:39

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