Science & Tech — 20 January 2014

Stars Twinkle

Almost all of us have heard the twinkling song about stars, but how many of us know the reason behind their twinkling? Well. If you are also unaware of it, then read on to learn about the mystery behind these shining and twinkling little stars.

The twinkling of stars is scientifically known as stellar scintillation. Basically, stars appear to us as single dots, as they are very far away from us. When their light comes to Earth, it is distorted and refracted in varied directions due to the turbulence in our atmosphere. This atmospheric turbulence keeps stars look like stable light sources, but their light keeps dancing in the air. That is the reason we do not receive a stable view of every single ray of these stars’ light. The light disturbances keep changing the image of a star very slightly. Thus, it appears that the position and brightness of a star keeps shifting.

A constant shift in the brightness and position of a star looks like its twinkle. Scientists have proved this by placing telescopes in space and taking real pictures of these stars. Since there is no atmosphere there, twinkling is not observed. The light coming from stars is just like sunlight that does not show a twinkle. The difference merely comes from the distance of stars and Sun from our planet. The atmospheric distortions play a greater role in case of stars than in case of Sun or other planets, as stars are too far from the Earth.

While a planet or the Sun averages out the effect of atmospheric turbulences, it presents a stable image. This does not happen in case of stars and they appear to be twinkling. Thus, you are now aware of the mystery behind the twinkling of stars and need not say anymore that you wonder what it is.

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Written by Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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