On a clear night in the country, you can look into the sky and see a soft band of light stretching overhead. That glowing band is the starry disk of our galaxy-the Milky Way-seen edge-on from within. Yet this entire cosmic panorama, as vast as it might seem, represents a very small part of our galaxy.

Our galaxy is often called the Milky Way, but this hazy glow also has many other names. The Blackfoot people of the North American Plains call it the Wolf Trail, after the wolves that taught them how to hunt together.

Some Indigenous Australians see the Milky Way as a river in the sky, with the big stars as fish, and the small ones as lily bulbs.

The name Milky Way comes from the ancient Greeks, who thought the galaxy looked like the milk of the goddess Hera flowing across the sky.

The term "galaxy" comes from the Greek word "galaktos," which means milk.

It should come as no surprise that the term "galaxy" comes from the Greek word "galaktos," which means milk.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Australian Museums & Galleries Online, Australia; Centre of the Universe; Gemini Observatory, Hawaii; Glenbow Museum; The Manitoba Museum; National Research Council Canada; Planétarium de Montréal

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

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