Where does the name "Milky Way" come from?
Where does the naming Milky Way for our Galaxy come from? Do you know who introduced this wording and why?
The name Milky Way refers to the milky patch of sky which rings the Earth. You may have seen it if you live outside of a big city, it looks almost like very tenuous clouds to the naked eye. It was named in prehistory before anyone really knew what it was, so just called the "Milky Way" for its appearance. It wasn't until Gallileo looked at an area of it with his telescope in the 1600s that it was realised that the Milky Way was made up of thousands of individual stars, and it was even later that it was realised that what we are looking at is an edge on view of our own galaxy, one of billions in the universe.
An interesting fact related to this is that the word galaxy actually comes from the Greek word, galactos for milk! The Latin version of Milky Way is Via Lactea, with "Via" meaning "Way" or "Road" and "Lactea" meaning "Milk".
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- What are the names of the earth, moon, sun, and solar system?
- Where did the name 'Earth' come from?
- Who named the planets and who decides what to name them?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 82986 times since May 12, 2002.
Last modified: May 25, 2004 10:30:47 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)