Monday, June 30, 2008

Maiden Vein tangent: Milky Way tour stop 1

This week's word of the week from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English is Maiden Vein which refers to the Milky Way.

We plan to visit a few Milky Way stops through the week. The first is Wikipedia:

Milky Way
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

100,000 light years
12,000 light years (gas)[1]1,000 light years (stars)
Number of stars
200 to 400 billion
Oldest star
13.2 billion years
See also: Galaxy, List of galaxies

The Milky Way (a translation of the Latin Via Lactea, in turn derived from the Greek Γαλαξίας (Galaxias) sometimes referred to simply as "the Galaxy"), is a barred spiral galaxy that is part of the Local Group of galaxies. Although the Milky Way is one of billions of galaxies in the observable universe,[4] the Galaxy has special significance to humanity as it is the home galaxy of the planet Earth. The plane of the Milky Way galaxy is visible from Earth as a band of light in the night sky, and it is the appearance of this band of light which has inspired the name for our galaxy.

Some sources hold that, strictly speaking, the term Milky Way should refer exclusively to the observation of the band of light, while the full name Milky Way Galaxy, or alternatively the Galaxy should be used to describe our galaxy as an astrophysical whole.[5][6][7] It is unclear how widespread the usage of this convention is, however, and the term Milky Way is routinely used in either context.


View from Earth
The Milky Way galaxy, as viewed from the Earth, itself situated on one of the spiral arms of the galaxy (see Sun's location), appears as a hazy band of white light in the night sky arching across the entire celestial sphere originating from stars and other material which lie within the galactic plane. The plane of the Milky Way is inclined by about 60° to the ecliptic (the plane of the earth's orbit), with the North Galactic Pole situated at right ascension 12h49m, declination +27.4° (B1950) near beta Comae Berenices. The South Galactic Pole is near alpha Sculptoris.
The centre of the galaxy is in the direction of Sagittarius, and the Milky Way then "passes" (going westward) through Scorpius, Ara, Norma, Triangulum Australe, Circinus, Centaurus, Musca, Crux, Carina, Vela, Puppis, Canis Major, Monoceros, Orion & Gemini, Taurua, Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus & Lacerta, Cygnus, Vulpecula, Sagitta, Aquila, Ophiuchus, Scutum, and back to Sagittarius.
The Milky Way looks brightest in the direction of the constellation of Sagittarius, toward the galactic center. Relative to the celestial equator, it passes as far north as the constellation of Cassiopeia and as far south as the constellation of Crux, indicating the high inclination of Earth's equatorial plane and the plane of the ecliptic relative to the galactic plane. The fact that the Milky Way divides the night sky into two roughly equal hemispheres indicates that our Solar System lies close to the galactic plane. The Milky Way has a relatively low surface brightness, making it difficult to see from any urban or suburban location suffering from light pollution.


REDEFiNE iT: Dictionary of Newfoundland English is brought to you by the Newfoundland based audio book publisher Rattling Books.

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