There’s no place like home! Our solar system sits within the Milky Way, a barred spiral galaxy approximately 150-200,000 light years in diameter. It’s part of the Local Group of galaxies, which form part of the Virgo Supercluster, itself a component of the Laniakea Supercluster. Staggeringly, the Laniakea Supercluster holds over 100,000 galaxies and is over 520 million light years across. Despite the Milky Way barely registering in that huge mass, it’s a giant in its own right, containing an estimated 100-400 billion stars and an equal number of planets!
For those lucky enough to see it in the night sky, this stunning natural wonder is awe-inspiring and science continues to chip away at what we don’t fully understand. Something we do know, is that it isn’t flat, but warped, curving in different directions towards its edge. The Austrian Mint has tried to replicate that with its own coin, struck in a bidirectional domed shape, which does look pretty cool. The rest of the design looks good, with a colour depiction of our galaxy on the reverse, and a ‘map’ of it, including the positions of our own location, the Orion Arm, marked out. This coin actually came out last year, and was the first in a three-coin set. The latest issue is also depicted below, The Black Hole, and is deeply concave on the reverse side. A really well done pair of coins.
Newer to market is the second in the Czech Mints dedicated 12-coin ‘Milky Way’ series. It’s actually a title not really reflective of the other coins to come (Halley’s Comet, first Czechoslovakian in space, first artificial satellite, etc.) but this particular issue is bang on target. A more traditional design, with a simple colour image of the galaxy in the centre, taken from a watercolour painting rather than a CGI render. The obverse is a mix of the more fantastical, incorporating crop circles and a UFO.
Both the Austrian and Czech Mint ranges comes boxed, with certificates. The Austrian set has a good-looking box to hold all three issues, available for a fairly hefty €64.50, while the Czech Mint series has a gatefold binder with holders for each encapsulated coin, accompanied by lots of information on each one. That sells for €40.00. All four coins depicted here are available now, with some sold out at the mint, so you’ll have to hit the aftermarket.