The Milky Way: Our Galaxy and Its Components

  • Gabriella BernardiEmail author
  • Alberto Vecchiato
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


On a clear night, and from a place free from light pollution, it is impossible not to notice a bright, imposing strip stretching across the sky. Ancient Greeks called it Γαλαξίας (Galaxias), which gave origin to the name “Galaxy.” This word means “milky,” because, in Greek mythology, it is the milk spurt from the breasts of Hera, Zeus’s wife, while she was nursing the baby Heracles. The Romans inherited the Greeks’ gods and mythology, and called this spectacular structure “Via Lactea,” which means “Milky Way.”

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TorinoItaly
  2. 2.National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF)Pino TorineseItaly

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