The Origin of the Word 'Galaxy'

The word galaxy derives from the Greek term for our own galaxy, galaxias, meaning "milky circle" for its appearance in the sky. In Greek mythology, Zeus places his son born by a mortal woman, the infant Heracles, on Hera's breast while she is asleep so that the baby will drink her divine milk and will thus become immortal. Hera wakes up while breastfeeding and then realizes she is nursing an unknown baby, she pushes the baby away and a jet of her milk sprays the night sky, producing the faint band of light known as the Milky Way.

The above picture shows the painting: Origin of the Milky Way by Tintoretto, National Gallery, London in which it shows the Milky Way as formed from the snow-white breast of heaven's queen (Hera feeding Heracles) from which there flowed a stream of milk which left its color upon the skies.

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