Saturday, 24 December 2016

Towards the edge of our galaxy

Our galaxy, which we call the Milky Way, is some 100.000 lightyears across. In kilometres, that would be more or less! Our solar system lies in one of its less fashionable parts, in the heart of a spiral arm that's not even worthy the name. Astronomers refer to it as the "Orion Spur", because our part of the Milky Way's most visible in the constellation of Orion and because, as I said, it's not a full-grown spiral arm but a sort of spur in between the Saggitarius and Perseus arms. On the image below you can see an artist's concept of our galaxy and I've highlighted the position of our solar system with a red dot.

With my sketch, I want to take you towards the edge of our galaxy, towards the yellow dot on the map. Because there, 15.000 lightyears away, lies a beautiful open cluster, called NGC1193. It's a fairly difficult object because of its distance, but also because a lot of its light is being blocked by the dust of the large Perseus spiral arm. And yet, there it is... a middle-aged cluster which is slowly falling apart and stars that are beginning to leave the nest in which they were born. 

And with this, I'd like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. After a year of activity, my blog has grown considerably and that's all thanks to you, my dear, loyal readers. I hope you enjoyed my posts and I can assure you that I'll do my best to do even better next year. All my best wishes to all of you!!!


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