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    carl23's Avatar
    carl23 Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Jun 10, 2012, 02:30 PM
    Birds eye view of the galaxy
    If I wanted to look down on the milky way to view itís disc and spiral arms how far would I need to travel.
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    ebaines Posts: 12,129, Reputation: 1307
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    #2

    Jun 11, 2012, 05:50 AM
    I suppose it depends on how large you want the galaxy to appear in the window of your speace ship. The galaxy is about 100,000 lights year's across, so if you traveled 50,000 LY above the plane of the galaxy you would have a nice view where the Mily Way would appear to be about 90 degrees wide. But I'm sure you could discern the spiral nature of the galaxy from a closer distance - the disc of the galaxy is on average about 1000 LY thick, so if you traveled a bit over half that disatance (500 LY) you would be just above the disc and could then likely discrern the spiral nature of the galaxy.
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    carl23 Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Jun 11, 2012, 07:26 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by ebaines View Post
    I suppose it depends on how large you want the galaxy to appear in the window of yuor speace ship. The galaxy is about 100,000 lights year's across, so if you traveled 50,000 LY above the plane of the galaxy you would have a nice view where the Mily Way would appear to be about 90 degrees wide. But I'm sure you could discern the spiral nature of the galaxy from a closer distance - the disc of the galaxy is on average about 1000 LY thick, so if you traveled a bit over half that disatance (500 LY) you would be just above the disc and could then likely discrern the spiral nature of the galaxy.
    Thank you but I don't understand what you mean by the Mily Way would appear to be about 90 degrees wide.
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    ebaines Posts: 12,129, Reputation: 1307
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    #4

    Jun 12, 2012, 04:49 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by carl23 View Post
    Thank you but I don't understand what you mean by the Mily Way would appear to be about 90 degrees wide.
    If you stand 10 feet away from an object that is 20 feet wide it will have an apparent size of 90 degrees - meaning the angle that you turn your eyes to see from one edge to the other. Same thing if you stand 100 feet from an object that is 200 feet across, or 50,000 LY from an object that is 100,000 LY across.

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