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The last time you visited another universe, you might have
noticed a bright band of hazy light in the night sky. This band is called the Milky Way. It is actually a somewhat flat spiral made up of many stars.

There are millions of other clusters of stars of different sizes and shapes scattered throughout the universe. These clusters are called galaxies.

Ask your teacher to show you an illustration of the face and end views of a spiral galaxy. The sun is one star within the picture. Locate its general position.

Imagine that the Milky Way is the view we see when we look
through our own galaxy. How far away from the Milky Way
are we? Do you think a space ship could actually go there?

What's that? We're IN the Milky Way? That's news to me!
When we lie in the back yard on a warm summer night, I look
up into the sky to try and find the Milky Way. Well, so much for that! The brilliant scientist tells us that we are on the inside of the Milky Way, looking out, so of course, it is difficult to perceive our galaxy's form. If we are inside the Milky Way, or a part of it, how can we know what shape it is? Do they use mirrors?

Where the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia discusses "galaxy,"
it states in part, "Gravitation also holds clusters of galaxies together; the Local Group cluster includes the Milky Way (containing the sun and solar system) and the Andromeda Galaxy, both spirals, and the irregular Magellanic Clouds." It is difficult to imagine a scene so grand; then to find out we are A PART of it is inconceivable!

The Milky Way contains about 100 billion stars, including the sun. It is characterized by a central nucleus of closely packed stars, and a flat disk marked by spiral arms. The disk is about 100,000 light-years in diameter and on the average, 10,000 light-years thick (increasing up to 30,000 light-years at the nucleus). Surely you brilliant math students can convert that to miles so we can have an idea as to how far we would have to go to travel around it.

The sun is about 30,000 light-years from the nucleus, and
takes 200 million years to revolve once around the galaxy.
I guess we won't be able to go there in our Chevy.


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