A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Milky-way

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View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1295

Milky-way. n.s. [milky and way.] The galaxy.

The milky-way, or via lactea, is a broad white path or track, encompassing the whole heavens, and extending itself in some places with a double path, but for the most part with a single one. Some of the ancients, as Aristotle, imagined that this path consisted only of a certain exhalation hanging in the air; but, by the telescopical observations of this age, it hath been discovered to consist of an innumerable quantity of fixed stars, different in situation and magnitude, from the confused mixture of whose light its whole colour is supposed to be occasioned. It passes through the constellations of Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Aquila, Perseus, Andromeda, part of Ophiucus and Gemini, in the northern hemisphere; and in the southern it takes in part of Scorpio, Sagittarius, Centaurus, the Argo Navis and the Ara. The galaxy hath usually been the region in which new stars have appeared; as that in Cassiopeia, which was seen in A. D. 1572; that in the breast of the Swan, and another in the knee of Serpentarius; which have appeared for a while, and then become invisible again. Harris

Nor need we with a prying eye survey
The distant skies to find the milky-way:
It forcibly intrudes upon our sight.
Creech's Manilius.

How many stars there must be, a naked eye may give us some faint glimpse, but much more a good telescope, directed towards that region of the sky called the milky-way. Cheyne.

Sources: Cheyne, George (26) · Creech, Thomas (12) · Harris, John (31)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Milky-way." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 1, 2013. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=13047.


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