• Question: why do stars twinkle??

    Asked by Ipsita to Alice, Bose, Christian, Emma, Steve on 10 Mar 2016.
    • Photo: Alice Harpole

      Alice Harpole answered on 10 Mar 2016:

      Stars appear to twinkle due to our atmosphere. The movement of particles in the atmosphere bends the light from distant stars in random directions, such that they appear to move about ever so slightly when we look at them. To our eyes, this appears as twinkling (or in scientific terms ‘stellar scintillation’).

    • Photo: Steve Marsden

      Steve Marsden answered on 10 Mar 2016:

      A light will only twinkle if it is a point in the sky. All the stars in the sky are far enough away that they look like points and twinkle in the way Alice describes. However, planets in the solar system are close enough that they don’t look like points. Because of this, they twinkle much less, if at all. At the moment Jupiter is visible, and it’s definitely worth going out and having a look for yourself.