galactic coordinate system, astronomical coordinate system in which the principal axis is the galactic equator (the intersection of the plane of the Milky Way with the celestial sphere) and the reference points are the north galactic pole and the zero point on the galactic equator; the coordinates of a celestial body are its galactic longitude and galactic latitude. In the IAU galactic coordinate system, introduced in 1958 by the International Astronomical Union, the zero point on the galactic equator has the equatorial coordinates R.A. 17h39.3m and Dec. - 28°55−; this lies in the direction of the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.