Every night we get a glimpse of the cosmos. It is a beautiful but deceptive vista. Our eyes are drawn to bright things: the Moon, planets, stars. They seem prominent, but this is a trick of perspective.The real story lies in that milky-white band that wisps across the firmament. This is our home galaxy, the Milky Way. We, along with every star we can see by eye, are embedded within it. The Milky Way is so large that if it were shrunk down to the size of the Pacific Ocean, the solar system itself would be the size of a maple leaf. The Earth is microscopic on this scale. Yet confined to this microscopic planet humans have mapped the ocean of stars to staggering precisioa This isthe story of howwe did it. More than oncewe have been forced to accept a universe that de- lies Earth-bound notions of what is plausible: Our universe began with a Bang 13.7 billion years ago. It is filled with dark matter, dark energy, and at least one planet with people who look up and askwhy. James Bullock is an astrophysicist who studies the Milky Way, dark matter,and the assembly of galaxies. He is a Professor of Physics & Astronomy at UC Irvine and Director of the UQ Center for Cosmology. Bullock is the founding director of the Southern California Center for Galaxy Evolution; an organization that unites the five southern University of California campuses - Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and San Diego -to create the largest institute of its kind in the world. An author of more than 100 scientific articles, Bullock is a fellow the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and recipient of a 2011 Celebration inTeach- ing Award from UC Irvine. In 2010 he co-hosted the National Geographic Special 'Inside the Milky Way.'