From the April 2010 issue

Glenn Chaple’s Observing Basics: Our galaxy in a nutshell

June 2010: Use distance scales to better understand our place in the Milky Way.
By | Published: April 26, 2010
June 2010 Milky Way map
If the Milky Way were the size of the United States with the galactic center in Topeka, Kansas, our solar system would be 650 miles away in Columbus, Ohio.
Astronomy: Kellie Jaeger, after Joseph Caruso; Milky Way: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Last month, we scaled down a few currently visible solar system bodies, winding up with a basketball-sized Sun whose most distant major planet, Neptune, is a marble a half mile away. This month, we go galactic, leaving the solar system behind to explore our Milky Way Galaxy.