Which hemisphere has the best view of the Milky Way? (Beginner)

From which hemisphere can you see the largest part of the Milky Way? Which hemisphere is tilted towards the center of the milky way?

Because the Milky Way forms a great circle in the sky, you can see equal amounts of it from the same latitude in either hemisphere. The closer to the equator you are, the more you can see. At the poles, you can only ever see half, because you can only see half of the sky. At the equator, you can see it all, because you can see the whole sky (if you watch for a whole year).

But not all views of the Milky Way are created equal. The center of the Milky Way is in the constellation Sagittarius, which is at a declination of around -30 degrees. So for people living at a latitude of of –30 degress, the galactic center is visible directly overhead. It is no surprise that the next generation radio observatory, the Square Kilometer Array is to be spread across South Africa and Australia at sites near –30 degrees latitude.

This page was last updated June 27, 2015.

About the Author

Dave Kornreich

Dave was the founder of Ask an Astronomer. He got his PhD from Cornell in 2001 and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Science at Humboldt State University in California. There he runs his own version of Ask the Astronomer. He also helps us out with the odd cosmology question.

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