### „The centre and the radius of this auxiliary sphere are here quite arbitrary.“

— Carl Friedrich Gauss

Context: In researches in which an infinity of directions of straight lines in space is concerned, it is advantageous to represent these directions by means of those points upon a fixed sphere, which are the end points of the radii drawn parallel to the lines. The centre and the radius of this auxiliary sphere are here quite arbitrary. The radius may be taken equal to unity. This procedure agrees fundamentally with that which is constantly employed in astronomy, where all directions are referred to a fictitious celestial sphere of infinite radius. Spherical trigonometry and certain other theorems, to which the author has added a new one of frequent application, then serve for the solution of the problems which the comparison of the various directions involved can present.
"Gauss's Abstract of the Disquisitiones Generales circa Superficies Curvas presented to the Royal Society of Gottingen" (1827) Tr. James Caddall Morehead & Adam Miller Hiltebeitel in General Investigations of Curved Surfaces of 1827 and 1825 http://books.google.com/books?id=SYJsAAAAMAAJ& (1902)