See the Milky Way Galaxy Like Never Before With This Stunning 3-D Map

Gaias all-sky view of our Milky Way Galaxy and neighbouring galaxies
Gaia's all-sky view of our Milky Way Galaxy and neighbouring galaxies | © European Space Agency/Gaia/DPAC

Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor

Europe’s Gaia satellite has published the most detailed and comprehensive map ever made of the Milky Way Galaxy.

An incredible new map from the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Gaia satellite shows more than a billion stars, complete with their distance from Earth, colour, and motion through space.

The catalogue was created from data Gaia gathered on some 1.7 billion stars from its unique vantage point in space – about 1.5 million kilometres (930,000 miles) from Earth.

‘Gaia will greatly advance our understanding of the Universe on all cosmic scales,’ says Timo Prusti, Gaia project scientist at ESA. ‘Even in the neighbourhood of the Sun, which is the region we thought we understood best, Gaia is revealing new and exciting features.’

The map, which is the most complete and precise map of the sky ever produced, is part of a larger project known as Gaia’s ‘book of the heavens’. When the project is complete in the 2020s, it will underpin astronomy for decades to come.
‘The observations collected by Gaia are redefining the foundations of astronomy,’ says Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science. ‘Gaia is an ambitious mission that relies on a huge human collaboration to make sense of a large volume of highly complex data. It demonstrates the need for long-term projects to guarantee progress in space science and technology and to implement even more daring scientific missions of the coming decades.’

When complete, the map will serve as a reference to plan all observations by other telescopes, be integral to the operation of all spacecrafts (which navigate space by tracking stars) and give insights into the our Galaxy, including hints about its history and its evolution in the future.

It will also help scientists to find new asteroids and planets, and to test physical constants and theories.

‘With Gaia, we can actually deconstruct the whole history of the Milky Way,’ said Guenther Hasinger, ESA’s director of science. ‘It’s like archaeoastronomy… to really build up the history of our Universe.’

A series of 360-degree videos and other virtual reality visualisation resources are available here.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.