What is a galaxy? According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a galaxy is a system of stars and other matter, such as gases, asteroids, and planets, that together make up the universe.
Galaxies are enormous – many are thought to contain hundreds of billions of stars. The Milky Way Galaxy, for example – the spiral galaxy in which we live – is estimated to house some 400 billion stars. Billions of individual galaxies may exist – in fact, some “stars” have been found to be galaxies as telescope technologies have improved.
There are many types of galaxies, ranging from the enormous spiral galaxies – such as the one pictured in this tutorial – to dwarf diffuse galaxies. Most galaxies are further arranged into clusters of many galaxies, and these clusters into superclusters. If you could take a picture of the universe, then, it would resemble a chain or net of galaxies.
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There is still much that scientists do not know about galaxies. For example, a supermassive object exists at the center of most galaxies, the gravity of which holds the galaxy together. These objects may be black holes. In younger galaxies, the bright lights of quasars are observed in their middles.
Galaxies were first discovered less than 200 years ago, but they have made a large and permanent impression on both science and popular culture. For example, one popular science fiction series begins this way: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Images of spiral galaxies are often used in artwork, album covers, and on t-shirts.
Would you like to draw your own remarkable galaxy? This easy, step-by-step drawing tutorial is here to help. All you will need is a pencil or pen, a sheet of paper, and something with which to color your finished drawing.
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Step by Step Instructions for Drawing a Galaxy
1. Begin by drawing a small oval, tilted at a diagonal angle. This will form the center of the galaxy.
2. Draw another, much larger, oval around the first. This will form outer portions of the galaxy.
3. Draw a third tilted oval between the first two, adding yet another layer to the galaxy.
4. Draw curved lines encircling the ovals. Notice how the lines overlap but do not touch. These lines form the galaxy’s spiral arms.
5. Draw a small circle to one side of the galaxy, indicating a planet in the foreground of the picture.
6. Using a circle, draw another small planet on the other side of the galaxy.
7. Draw a half circle at the side of your page (or, a whole circle if you have enough room). This shape forms yet another planet. Then, draw a curved line around the middle of the planet, forming rings like those of the planet Saturn.
8. Draw another small planet in the foreground, using a circle.
9. Bespeckle your drawing with dots, small circles, and shaded circles of various sizes. Are they stars? Black holes? Rogue planets? The choice is yours. Detail one of your larger planets with a pair of lines banding its middle.
10. Color your galaxy. In our example, we’ve shaded the depths of space a dark blue, and used blue and purple to highlight the arms of the galaxy. What colors will your planets be? Gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter may be shades of red or orange, while cold planets like Neptune and Uranus often appear blue.
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