Where is the Milky Way?

The Milky Way galaxy is where we live. It’s a huge part of space. Look up into the sky at night. You are looking at the Milky Way. But it’s so big you can’t see it all.

Our solar system is just a tiny part of the massive Milky Way. Scientists reckon there are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way. That’s a lot of stars.

Remember that our solar system has the Sun and the planets, including Earth, which travel around it and that is pretty big. But inside the Milky Way we are super, super small.

In fact our Solar System in the Milky Way means we are not a big city or a small town or even a village. We are about the size of a match in the whole of our planet. And because Earth is inside the Milky Way, we’ve never been far enough out into space to see what it really looks like. Today we get help from radio telescopes.

What's in the Milky Way?

Well we are in the Milky Way. Earth is and so too about 200 billion stars. But then there are other things as well.

•    Constellations
•    A big black hole
•    Dust clouds

Constellations are templates or giant areas inside the Milky Way. We can see about 1000 stars at night and by placing them in constellations, it helps us decide which star is which.

Every galaxy, including the Milky Way, has a big black hole. And even though it is black, with telescopes we can still see it. Our black hole is a very long way away – 26,000 light years which seems incredible.

Remember a light year is the distance traveled non-stop for one year at the speed of light. Light travels at 300,000 kilometres a second. That’s quick. Imagine how far you would travel if you did that for 26,000 years. Wow!

There is a strong gravity in our black hole which pulls everything into it including light.

Dust clouds in our galaxy are made up of material which when brought together forms a new star. We can see these dust clouds with the help of powerful telescopes like the Hubble.

 

 

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