The pale band across the middle of the sky is a side-on view of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
The pattern of stars in the sky is fixed, but seems to rotate (turn) through the night sky as the Earth spins.
It takes 23 hours 56 minutes for the star pattern to return to the same place in the sky.
As Earth orbits the Sun, our view of the stars changes and the pattern starts in a different place each night.
Different patterns of stars are seen in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere.
The night sky is brightened by the Moon and twinkling points of light.
Most lights in the sky are stars. But moving, flashing lights may be satellites.
The brightest ‘stars’ in the night sky are not actually stars at all, but the planets Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Mercury.
You can see about 2000 stars with the naked eye.
You can see another galaxy besides the Milky Way with the naked eye – the Andromeda galaxy, over 2.2 million light-years away.
Look into the night sky and you can see about 2000 stars twinkling above you (they twinkle because of the shimmering of heat in the Earth’s atmosphere). With binoculars, you can see many more. Powerful telescopes reveal not just thousands of stars but millions. Even with the naked eye, though, some of the stars you see are trillions of kilometers away — and their light takes millions of years to reach us.
The Milky Way galaxy can be seen clearly from Earth, viewed from the side.