When sf writers venture beyond the Solar System, they often describe:
the interior of a spaceship en route across an interstellar distance;
the surface of an extrasolar planet.
However, there is so much more than that out there. Poul Anderson does in fact do more. First, he characteristically describes a star and its planetary system before focusing on a particular planet. Secondly, he imagines many dramatic stellar events generating extreme alien environments. See here.
I think that a reader of galactic sf should be given some sense of the size and shape of the galaxy, the arms, the center, the halo and any other features. I am less familiar with more recent sf. Gregory Benford has a Galactic Center Saga. Some passages in works by Anderson or by James Blish impart relevant information and may be discussed later.
Signing off for what may be a busy weekend.