The Milky Way shines over Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Photo: Paula Cobleigh

The brilliant band of the Milky Way dazzles over Mount Rainier National Park in an amazing new image.

Paula Cobleigh captured this photo on Oct. 25 while visiting Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state. Mount Rainier is an active volcano, ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level (4,392 meters). This massive glaciated peak also spawned six major rivers — the most in the contiguous United States. The lights in the background of the image, toward the front of the mountain are from the town of Cle Elum. [Stunning Photos of Our Milky Way Galaxy]

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy made up of gas, dust and roughly 400 billion stars. Stretching between 100,000 to 120,000 light-years in diameter, our host galaxy appears from Earth like a line of light in the sky. The section of the galaxy we see is actually the center of the galaxy, as seen from one of its outer arms. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). 

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