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Posted by Kip Crawford on December 7, 2001 21:28:35 UTC

Our galaxy has about four arms of stars (hence a apiral galaxy). Our solar system sits about 2/3 away from the center of the galaxy. Each arm has a name. Our system (if I remember correctly) sits in the Perseus Arm and is flanked by the Orion Arm. From where we sit (on Earth) we are in essence surrounded by both arms (MilkyWay). In the summer, we see the Perseus arm and in the winter the Orions'. The MilkyWay is always in view no matter where you are and what time. If you were to run the night sky in fast forwar, it would look like a ring twirling on a table. The "line" of the MilkyWay is called the galatic equator. This "line" spins and angles differently as the year progresses. You must remember that there are "two" Milkyway arms that we see in a year. It is kind of hard to explain (and I'm sure I am doing a poor job here). Each arm has it's own direction. The center of the galaxy in in the Sagittarius/Scorpius region and photos of that areas looks "caddy-wumpus" because one arm is going out and another is "curled around" giving an impression that it's all one arm. It's not. Sorry if this explaination is not very good, but I see this in my mind, but putting it words is tough without good visuals.

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