Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: Do Stars Really Twinkle At Night?

Staring up above the sky, we notice a cluster of diamond twinkling in the sky. These are stars. Since childhood we know that Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, but do stars really twinkle at night is the biggest question. To be precise, some stars twinkle and some not. But what is the valid rationale behind the twinkling of stars?

Little bit more research on the subject deciphers that twinkling of stars is eventually the result of the gaseous mixture and other substances in our open atmosphere. When light from a far-away located star touches the earth, its light should be well-aligned but noticing stars from outer space or outside the earth, one would see them as a glare of light.

Stars twinkle twinkle

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The lights are susceptible to bend due to air up to a nominal amount. The light will be enough to scatter its shine over a wider area. When the light swiftly moves through the atmosphere hitting several air pockets, the stars get out of shape and appear to be twinkle on top of the sky.

The Secret of the Universe

Stars are basically too far away from the living planet Earth. Actually, when the light from the stars moves towards the earth then it gets refracted many times. This process is called astronomical scintillation. However, despite being extra terrestrial bodies, the Sun and planets in our solar system don’t shine of their own. They are too close to our planet in comparison to others.

Each layer of Earth’s atmosphere involves some movement of air in various directions at various speeds and intensity. If an astronaut views towards stars from outer space then actually they won’t be twinkling anymore. That’s the very reason why astronauts and scientists work day and night with telescopes to unravel the secrets of the universe.  

The Truth is Stars Never Twinkle

In a nutshell, Stars do not really twinkle or shine at all although they might be appearing so from the surface of Earth. It is the atmosphere that makes stars twinkle at night. Astronomers find it extremely difficult zero on in a particular star because of its excessive twinkling. When the star twinkles, the images inside the telescope and other scientific equipment give blurrier images.

According to Aristotle, Stars twinkle so that people could magnify their vision of life, space and other things surrounding us. A few centuries later, scientists found that stars twinkle because they move from one side to another. However, it was only in the 18th century, when the great scientist Isaac Newton propounded the real reason behind star’s twinkle. He observed it was Earth’s atmosphere that is responsible for star’s twinkle. And literally, Twinkle, Twinkle little or big star could be a figment of our imagination only.

What New Space Scientists Have to Say on It

Lorne Whitehead, a physicist at the University of British Columbia stated, “A bright light, positioned far away, projects as a tiny point through the varying air densities of our atmosphere. Hundreds of these pockets act as lenses, refracting the light so that it moves like the light on the bottom of a swimming pool on a sunny day. The changing swells on the pool’s surface correspond to the turbulent shifting of our atmosphere”.

Twinkle stars

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A few years later, John Kuehne of the University of Texas found that “Starlight is a set of light waves that travel perfectly in sync. The atmosphere puts wrinkles and crenelations into that wave front. Thus, it compels stars to appear twinkling at night from Earth, scientifically called stellar scintillation.

Categories: Astronomy

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