A band of faint light across the sky, visible to the naked eye on a moonless night, consisting of stars and glowing gas in the disk of our own Galaxy. From Cassiopeia to Cygnus the Milky Way varies in width, and between Cygnus and Sagittarius it appears to split into two, separated by the Great Rift. It is faint from Cassiopeia to Canis Major, particularly near Taurus. In the southern hemisphere from Sagittarius to Carina the Milky Way is spectacular. Dark areas stand out in greater contrast in this region, notably the Coalsack nebula in Crux. The galactic centre lies in Sagittarius, where star clouds are particularly bright and dense. The plane of our Galaxy runs along the Milky Way and is inclined at about 63° to the celestial equator, a result of the orientation of the Solar System within the Galaxy.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.