The galaxy is shaped somewhat like a lens or like two saucers placed together facing each other. The width is greater than the thickness. That is the appearance that would be seen when looked at along the equatorial plane.
Actually, the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, resembling a pinwheel, with a central hub and spiral, curving arms. Our solar system is located on one of the arms. Between the various arms are areas comprised of dark gas and dust. The biggest one of these is known as the Great Rift. The bright patches are called star clouds.