The Milky Way (a translation of the Latin Via Lactea, in turn derived from the Greek Ga?a??a? (Galaksias), sometimes referred to simply as "the Galaxy", is a barred spiral galaxy which forms part of the Local Group. Although the Milky Way is but one of billions of galaxies in the universe, the Galaxy has special significance to humanity as it is the home of the solar system, which is located near the Orion Arm. Democritus (460 BC - 370 BC) was the first known person to claim that the Milky Way consists of distant stars.
A NASA artist's conception of what the Milky Way would look like if seen off-axis.