Galaxy Quest

Our universe is massive—the adverb “unfathomably” usually modifies that descriptor.  It’s an apt adverb—we can’t conceive—fathom—how vast it is.

That said, we manage to possess some picture of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and our neighboring galaxies, even though we will likely never visit them, much less probe them.  So how do we know what the Milky Way looks like, when we’re in it?

Once again, Quora comes to the rescue.  There’s no way to photograph the Milky Way from the outside looking in, because we haven’t put any probes out that far (the pictures of galaxies we see is usually the Andromeda Galaxy, a spiral galaxy like our own).  Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977, exited the Solar System in 2011; astronomically speaking, that’s like getting to the end of the block on your way to the edge of the country.

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