Without a telescope, we can see about 6,000 stars from Earth. That may seem like a lot of stars, but its actually only a small part of the whole. If you think of the entire galaxy as a giant pizza, all the stars you can see from Earth fall within about one pepperoni on that pizza. In fact, for every star you can see, there are more than 20 million you cannot see. Most of the stars are too faint, too far away or blocked by clouds of cosmic dust.
|The Milky Way is a huge collection of stars, dust and gas. Its called a spiral galaxy because if you could view it from the top, it would look like a spinning pinwheel. The Sun is located on one of the spiral arms, about 25,000 light-years away from the center of the galaxy. Even if you could travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), it would take you about 25,000 years to reach the middle of the Milky Way.||The Milky Way gets its name from a Greek myth about the goddess Hera who sprayed milk across the sky. In other parts of the world, our galaxy goes by other names. In China its called the Silver River, and in the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa, its called the Backbone of Night.|