It’s above us all the time. Our galaxy, which spans a mind-bending 100,000 to 180,000 light years in diameter. The Milky Way is a stunning band of stars, so massive and all-encompassing that it’s hard to even fathom. It also makes for a gorgeous photography, thanks to this collection of beautifully shot starscapes. The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy, and is estimated to contain 100-400 billion stars, each with it’s own solar system.
For scale, the Voyager Spacecraft, traveling at 32,000 miles per hour, would take 1,700,000,000 years to travel across the Milky Way.
Until the 1920s, scientists believed that all the stars in the universe were contained within the Milky Way. Now we know that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies. The scale may be hard to comprehend, but it’s comforting to know that we aren’t alone. It’s statistically, mathematically, and otherwise impossible that there’d be no other intelligent life in our galaxy, let alone the universe. With that, let’s just sit back and admire the beauty of the heavens above.