Which Constellations Can Be Seen Along The Milky Way?

Which Constellations Can Be Seen along the Milky Way?
Credit: Starry Night software

When describing those constellations that can be seen along the Milky Way, it is important to realize that we are referring to those constellations that can be seen by Earthbound observers looking in the direction of the Milky Way Galaxy. It is important to make this distinction because otherwise, we would say that all the stars and 88 recognized constellations we can see with the naked eye are contained within our own galaxy, and are therefore a part of our own Milky Way.

Note also that stars from outside our own galaxy are too dim to see without a telescope, and so all the 88 recognized constellations contain just those stars which are easy to spot in the night sky.

9,096 stars are visible to the naked eye

Of course, a telescope will allow more stars to become visible, but without the use of accessories, the naked eye can only see those stars of magnitude 6.5 and brighter. In fact, the Yale Bright Star Catalogue lists 9,096 stars that can be seen unaided, and since only half the celestial sphere is visible to us at any one time, stargazers can therefore only expect to see a maximum of 4,548 stars under optimal viewing conditions.

The Star Catalog also notes a further 14 visible-to-the-naked-eye night sky objects, of which 10 are novae or supernovae. The other 4 non-stellar objects include globular clusters 47 Tucanae (HR 95) and NGC 2808 (HR 3671), and open clusters NGC 2281 (HR 2496) and Messier 67 (HR 3515).

Milky Way constellations visible from Earth

The rotational Galactic Center of the Milky Way lies in the direction of Sagittarius, with the glowing band of hazy light then stretching all the way across to its anticenter in Auriga, before returning back to Sagittarius. From Earth, stargazers can see 30 constellations contained in this region of sky, some of which only faintly touch the region.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the major constellations the Milky Way passes through includes Orion, Auriga, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Sagittarius, and Scorpius; whilst in the Southern Hemisphere, these include Norma, Circinus, Crux, and Carina.

Which Constellation Can Be Seen Along The Milky Way?Northern Hemisphere

  • Monoceros
  • Canis Major
  • Orion,
  • Gemini
  • Taurus
  • Auriga
  • Perseus
  • Cassiopeia
  • Lacerta
  • Cepheus
  • Cygnus
  • Vulpecula
  • Sagitta
  • Aquila,
  • Serpens
  • Sagittarius
  • Scutum,
  • Ophiuchus
  • Scorpius

Southern Hemisphere

  • Norma
  • Lupus
  • Ara
  • Circinus
  • Triangulum
  • Crux,
  • Musca
  • Carina
  • Vela
  • Pyxis
  • Puppis

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