You must Sign In to post a response.
  • Category: Science & Technology

    Understanding twinkling of stars in the night sky

    In a clear dark night we all are fascinated by the stars in the sky. Those who have interest in Astronomy might be knowing the shapes of the constellations that stars form and their appearance and apparent movement in the night sky (of course due to rotation of earth around its axis).
    One phenomenon that is very prominent is the twinkling of the stars. We see them as specs having different brightness but they all twinkle as if they are shivering in cold deep out there.
    The reason for this twinkling of stars is the atmosphere of the Earth. When the light coming from a star enters the atmosphere of Earth then it is refracted and the direction of light goes on changing slightly and creating an illusion of twinkling of star. Because of the great distance of the stars we could see this twinkling due to the atmospheric refraction of the light coming from them.
    Another interesting thing is that in addition to the stars we also see the planets of our solar system in the night sky which also appear to us slowly moving across these constellations which is actually the deep space background for the planets. As the planets are relatively very near to us in comparison to the stars and they do not have their own light but a part of the sunlight is reflected from them and that is why we see them so in that case there is no twinkling of these planets and we can distinguish them in the night sky simply by this fact that the stars twinkle but planets do not.
    Have you ever observed these things with naked eye or using a telescope?
  • #25746
    I love to watch the night sky. In the western sky, if anyone is interested can look out for two major planets seen easily through the naked eye. They are visible after sunset. The brightest one is Venus, and closer to it is Jupiter. A few days before, there was a conjunction between them. It was not that obvious in India, but wherever it was seen, it was a delight to the eyes. Now they have moved a little far away from each other, but still, they shine bright and give a dignified look to the western sky.

  • #25747
    It is nice that you have interest in star gazing.
    Venus is the bright one in the sky and it is a planet but commonly known as evening star.

  • #25752
    This discussion brought a smile to my face because I immediately thought of the nursery rhyme 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'. I am sure for all of us this was one of the first - possibly the very first - rhyme we heard and learned in kindergarten. The teacher would draw stars on the blackboard and recite the words with actions to accompany it, and all the kids would follow the same.

    I do sometimes peer out of the window at the night sky, but, sadly, in the pollution haze caused by constant infrastructure work, not to mention light pollution, not a star is to be seen. In recent times, due to the redevelopment of old buildings transformed into ugly towering ones, now, sadly, I cannot even get a glimpse of the moon.

  • #25765
    Vandana, you are very right. It is difficult to pursue the hobby of star gazing in city environment. People who are interested in it generally go to outskirts or nearby villages or if possible to some hilly place.

  • #25782
    For those who are interested in star gazing and locating the planets of our solar system, I am giving the position of planets as on today (16.03.23) as within which sign they would be visible either with naked eye or a simple school telescope.
    Mercury - Pisces
    Venus - Aries
    Mars - Gemini
    Jupiter- Pisces
    Saturn- Aquarius
    Uranus - Aries
    Neptune - Pisces
    Pluto - Capricorn

  • #25785
    Yes, I still gaze at the sky and gaze at the innumerous shining spots and dots n the sky. But now star gazing lying on open ground is not there.(I was doing so when I was a student. Many time I had done star gazing in the nights lying on open grounds during school vents and public festivals. Then I used to do so sitting, standing or lying on open terraces in apartments and houses where I resided from time to time.
    As mentioned in the previous posts I can locate and identify the two objects Venus and Jupiter. Sometimes I can identify Mars. Earlier, I was able to locate and identify my star in the constellation in the sky. But now due to strain in eye, I may not be that successful. I look at sky with naked eyes only. I had visited planetariums in a few cities in India and had seen the film presentations there, but could not observe night sky with telescope.

  • #25786
    It is nice to see that you have such a great experience of star gazing. Today we find very few people having that type of interest.
    A simple telescope is sufficient to locate many objects in the sky and it shows Saturn alongwith its ring very nicely. Venus is always very bright. Some major stars in the various constellations are also clearly seen with an ordinary telescope.
    Once we recognise the shape of constellations in the sky and their movement in the sky throughout the year then star gazing becomes very interesting and one can learn a great deal about the universe around us.

  • Sign In to post your comments