milky way

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Mister Micawber

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The Milky Way is the name of our galaxy, especially of the transverse view we get of it.
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rewboss

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Feb 25, 2006
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To add to what Mister Micawber said:

If you live in a rural area and look at the sky on a starry night, you can see what looks like a faintly glowing band or ribbon stretching across the sky. It reminded people of a footpath or a road, but it had an almost milky-white appearance, and so they called it "the Milky Way".

We now know that this is part of the galaxy we live in, and so the name "the Milky Way" has become the name of the entire galaxy, not just the part we can see. So "Milky Way" is the name of a galaxy, in the same way that "New York" is the name of a city.

However, when people talk about "the Galaxy", they usually mean our galaxy; i.e., the Milky Way. In the same way, New Yorkers might talk about "the biggest department store in the city", meaning the city they are in at the moment -- usually New York. The name of the city is still New York.

Some people say that the name "Milky Way" should only refer to the band of stars we can see from earth, and that the name of the galaxy itself should be "the Milky Way Galaxy".
 
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