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The galaxy our solar system lives in is called the Milky Way, or Milky Way Galaxy (or simply, ‘our galaxy’, or ‘the galaxy’). The name comes from Via Lactea (Latin), and before that Galaxias Kyklos (Greek, Milky Circle). It is the same in many languages today, either from its Latin or Greek root (e.g. many Indo-European languages), or as a loan word.
In other languages, language families, or historically linked cultures, the band of pale light that is called Milky Way in English has names such as Silver River (e.g. Chinese, Korean; in Japanese it refers to galaxies in general); Birds’ Path, or Way of Birds (e.g. Finnish): The Road to Santiago (e.g. Portuguese); Straw Way (e.g. Turkish).
Because we are close to the plane of the Milky Way, and because it is a typical barred spiral, our home galaxy looks like a pale band of diffuse white light, stretching right round the sky, with various dark patches, streaks, etc at irregular locations (these are clouds of dust and gas in the interstellar medium (ISM) of the disk, blocking light from more distant stars in the disk).
The galaxy is brightest in the direction of its center, which is in the constellation Sagittarius. Viewed in some wavebands other than the optical (or visual), the direction towards the center reveals the bulge, the second obvious structural feature (after the disk) of the Milky Way. The other major structural features – the nucleus, halo, spiral arms, etc – are not obvious by simply looking at images (unlike other spiral galaxies!).
Our location in the Milky Way galaxy is a pleasant one, out in its suburbs; generations of stars before our homesun enriched the ISM with enough metals (as astronomers call all elements other than hydrogen and helium) that a protective and nurturing planetary system could form, and we are far enough out from downtown as to be relatively safe from the violence that often occurs there (various supernovae, and occasional flares from the supermassive black hole at the center of the nucleus, as it digests a star which strayed too close).
The Milky Way galaxy, our galaxy, our home, is the focus of many Universe Today articles; here’s a random selection: Milky Way Creates a Mess by Stealing Stars from Nearby Galaxies, The Milky Way Has Only Two Spiral Arms, and Milky Way is Twice as Thick as Previously Believed.