THE READER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
You have still only got to the star second closest to the Earth after the Sun, but it feels a very long way from home, so you look for something to help locate yourself, so as not to get lost.
Remembering the beautiful Milky Way you saw from your tropical-island beach, you look around to see where its cloudy white patch of light now lies. To your great surprise, you immediately see that it does not appear as a thick straight line any more but like a tilted ring, with some parts brighter than others, and you somewhere inside it. You realize that if it looked like a streak from the Earth it was because the Earth itself, under your feet, was hiding most of it.
Without a second thought, having found no planet around Proxima Centauri, you head straight for the brightest part of the Milky Way.
You do not know it yet, but you are now travelling towards the centre of a gathering of about 300 billion stars. A gathering that has been called a galaxy.