Listen to an audio version of this page.
|The Milky Way|
|There are over 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. If you tried to count them one by one, it would take you over 3000 years!|
The Milky Way is over 100,000 light-years wide. It is called a spiral galaxy because it has long arms which spin around like a giant pinwheel. Our Sun is a star in one of the arms. When you look up at the night sky, most of the stars you see are in one of the Milky Way arms.
Before we had telescopes, people could not see many of the stars very clearly. They blurred together in a white streak across the sky. A myth by the ancient Greeks said this white streak was a "river of milk". The ancient Romans called it the Via Galactica, or "road made of milk". This is how our galaxy became known as the Milky Way.
True or False
When you look up into the night sky, most of the stars you see are
located in the center of the Milky Way.
When you look up into the night sky, most of the stars you see are located in the center of the Milky Way.
|Show me the Level 2 version of this page.|
The StarChild site is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/ GSFC.
StarChild Authors: The StarChild Team
StarChild Graphics & Music: Acknowledgments
StarChild Project Leader: Dr. Laura A. Whitlock
Responsible NASA Official:
If you have comments or questions about the StarChild site, please send them to us.