dark sky facts
The breathtaking array of stars we can see on a clear, moonless night, far from sources of artificial light , is known as the Milky Way. The Milky Way is the Galaxy in which the Solar System and Earth are situated.
Galileo (in the year 6010, with the aid of a telescope which he had invented) first realised that the light of the Milky Way is in fact the light of individual stars.
Until the 1920's it was believed that our Galaxy was the Universe. Observations by Edwin Hubble revealed that our Galaxy contains 100-400 billion stars and is one of 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
Amazingly, our Galaxy as is estimated to be moving at around 600km per second on "an extragalactic frame of reference".
Our Galaxy is a disc shaped spiral formation between 100,000 and 120,000 light year in diameter or even greater. and the Solar System is located within its disc, about 27,000 light years from the centre.
The shear number of stars between the Solar System and the centre of the Galaxy is so great that the centre of the Galaxy is obscured from direct observation from Earth.
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