The Milky Way’s 219 MILLION stars mapped


  • Astronomers created the map using a 8.2ft mirror on the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) in the Canary Islands
  • INT charted stars brighter than 20th magnitude – or a million times fainter than can be seen with the human eye
  • It shows the visible part of the northern region of our home galaxy with darker regions showing galactic dust
  • Scientists hope the map will give them a new insight into the structure of this system of stars, gas and dust




The Milky Way is thought to be 120,000 light years across and contains more than 200 billion stars.

This makes it a ‘middleweight’ galaxy with the largest galaxy known, IC 1101, containing more than 100 trillion stars.

On a clear night, when you look up into the night sky the most you can see from any one point on the Earth is about 2,500 stars.

Like more than two-thirds of the known galaxies, the Milky Way has a spiral shape. 

At the centre of the spiral, a lot of energy and, occasionally, vivid flares are created. 

Astronomers believe the Milky Way wasn’t always a stunning barred spiral. It formed into its current size by ‘eating’ other galaxies.


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