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Commentary on the Galactic Plane

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 1 February, 2008 - 10:22

This is the beginning of a detailed commentary on the galactic plane. I'm defining this as the region visible between -5° and +5° galactic latitude. Because the Milky Way is a very flat disk, most of the major nebulae and highly luminous stars are found here. One major exception is our local galactic region, the Gould Belt, which is tilted at an angle of about 20° above and below the plane. I'll write a separate Guide to the Gould Belt at some point in the future.

Any material here is very much a draft and is likely to change considerably over the next year. My goal is to have the commentary completed by the end of 2009, the International Year of Astronomy.

My initial plan is to split the galactic plane up into 36 sectors, each 10° wide. This is pretty arbitrary and may change for the final version, but it at least gives me a plan of attack.

I'm starting with the Second Quadrant, which is the area of the outer galaxy between 90° and 180° galactic longitude. This region has a lot of interesting objects but is not as crowded as the inner galaxy, so seemed a good place to start.