Galactic Coordinate System

The galactic coordinate system is based on spherical coordinates centered at the Sun and oriented towards the galactic center. The whole of the galaxy serves as a reference plane with Coma Berenices as the north galactic pole. A different system, the ecliptic coordinate system, uses the solar system as the reference plane and Draco as the north ecliptic pole. The axial tilt of the solar system to the galaxy is about 30°. In contrast, the axial tilt of the Earth compared to the solar system is about 23.4°.
The galactic longitude () signifies the eastward angle along the galactic plane, measured from the galactic center. It runs from 0 to radians (or 0° to 360°).
The galactic latitude () is the northward angle perpendicular to the galactic plane, measured from the galactic center. This runs from to rad (or -90° to 90°).
The distance from the Sun in kpc is denoted (). The distance to the galactic center is approximately 8 kpc. Our galactic disc is around 30 kpc wide and 1 kpc thick at the Sun's distance. It contains a central bulge with a diameter of approximately 5 kpc.


  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]
    • Share:

Embed Interactive Demonstration New!

Just copy and paste this snippet of JavaScript code into your website or blog to put the live Demonstration on your site. More details »

Files require Wolfram CDF Player or Mathematica.

Mathematica »
The #1 tool for creating Demonstrations
and anything technical.
Wolfram|Alpha »
Explore anything with the first
computational knowledge engine.
MathWorld »
The web's most extensive
mathematics resource.
Course Assistant Apps »
An app for every course—
right in the palm of your hand.
Wolfram Blog »
Read our views on math,
science, and technology.
Computable Document Format »
The format that makes Demonstrations
(and any information) easy to share and
interact with.
STEM Initiative »
Programs & resources for
educators, schools & students.
Computerbasedmath.org »
Join the initiative for modernizing
math education.
Step-by-Step Solutions »
Walk through homework problems one step at a time, with hints to help along the way.
Wolfram Problem Generator »
Unlimited random practice problems and answers with built-in step-by-step solutions. Practice online or make a printable study sheet.
Wolfram Language »
Knowledge-based programming for everyone.
Powered by Wolfram Mathematica © 2018 Wolfram Demonstrations Project & Contributors  |  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  RSS Give us your feedback
Note: To run this Demonstration you need Mathematica 7+ or the free Mathematica Player 7EX
Download or upgrade to Mathematica Player 7EX
I already have Mathematica Player or Mathematica 7+