The Milky Way

What were some of the earliest studies of the Milky Way?

In the early 1600s, Galileo Galilei first examined the Milky Way through a telescope and saw that the glowing band of light was made up of a huge number of faint stars that were apparently very close together. As early as 1755, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant suggested that the Milky Way is a lens-shaped collection of stars and that there might be many such collections in the universe. The German-English astronomer William Herschel (1738–1822), who is perhaps best known for his discovery of the planet Uranus, was also the first astronomer to conduct a scientific survey of the Milky Way.


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