LOOKING GLASS

A census of 500,000 stars helped create this birds-eye image of the Milky Way. Astronomers used infrared telescopes to peer through interstellar fog and spy thousands of carbon-rich stars, which because of their fixed brightness served as ideal plotting points to construct the galactic map. A conventional probe dispatched from Earth, which resides in one of the swirling arms of the galaxy, would have to travel for 200 million years to gain this perspective.
02/06/02