Thursday, May 6, 2010


The Milky Way is simply the common name for the galaxy that encompasses our solar system. The phrase Milky Way came from the band of white light that can be seen across the celestial sphere visible from Earth. This celestial sphere contains a host of various stars and other solar matter. The discovery of the Milky Way is credited to the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus, who was the first person in recorded history to make the assumption that the Milky Way existed and was made up of billions of distant stars.

The Milky Way is believed to be more than 13 billion years old, which is estimated to be virtually as old as the entire Universe itself. The Milky Way galaxy is actually just one of billions of galaxies contained within the Universe, although very little is currently known about its seemingly infinite galactic counterparts.

The Milky Way galaxy has a whopping circumference of roughly 250-300 thousand light years! Within the main body of the Milky Way there are estimated to be between 200 and 400 billion stars. The Earth’s solar system is believed to exist very close to the Galaxy’s galactic plane, due to the fact that the Milky Way essentially divides the night sky into two virtually equal hemispheres.

Scientists now estimate that in roughly three billion years, the Milky Way galaxy will actually collide with the Andromeda Galaxy, which is very slowly working its way towards us at a modest speed of about 1,800 kilometers per minute.


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