Galaxies and Star Clusters

A galaxy is a huge collection of gas, dust, and billions of stars and their solar systems. What holds it all together? Gravity!


Our sun is a star, and it has a solar system with eight planets, their moons, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. Our solar system is huge! But it's just the beginning. It's only a small part of the Milky Way Galaxy.


Every star you can see in the night sky is part of the Milky Way Galaxy. But ours isn't the only one! There are thousands of galaxies in the universe, all created by God. That's pretty awesome!



The Milky Way Galaxy

You can't really see the shape of the Milky Way from inside it, and no spacecraft has ever traveled far enough to turn around and take a picture of it. This was drawn by an artist, and it's what scientists think the Milky Way looks like, based on lots of different research. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech)



 

Stars have different colors based on their temperatures, so the galaxies can be very colorful. Dust and other debris also impacts the colors we see. The Hubble Space Telescope has taken pictures of some galaxies that are amazing to see! Here are a few:




Antennae Galaxies

Source: NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)



 

Rose Interacting Galaxies

These two galaxies are pulling on each other with gravitational forces, which makes this cool image that looks like a rose!

Source: NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)



 

The Sombrero Galaxy

Source: NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)



 

The Whirlpool Galaxy

Source: NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)



 

There are also star clusters that are much smaller than galaxies, but they're still awesome to look at! And unlike galaxies, we can see many of them just looking up into the night sky. A telescope will help you to see them even better! Here are a couple of Harvey's favorites:



The Pleiades

There are hundreds of stars in the cluster known as the Pleiades, but we can only see a few with just our eyes. This cluster is also known as the Seven Sisters. It's mentioned in the Trailbook (Bible) 3 times!



 

The Hercules Cluster

If you came to Youth Haven in Michigan this summer and got to go to the observatory, this might look familiar to you! The Hercules cluster is special because it's visible for at least part of the night every day of the year. It looks like a fuzzy point of light with your eyes, but through a telescope you can see it contains lots of individual stars!

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