Why Do Stars Twinkle?

The twinkling objects in the sky at night are the stars when seen from the earth. Light on its way from heaven down to the earth has to penetrate a range of atmospheric tiers of varying densities and degrees of temperature (a gradual decrease in temperature to the tune of 6.5°C takes place while moving upward in the air). The light, therefore, has to bend into many ways from otherwise the normal course because there is a medium (density) change layer after layer. Moreover, the compression and the rare factions propagated by air whirls render the light to blur down at our eyes.

Stars Why Do Stars Twinkle?

The ‘on and off’ refraction of light through the bulky curtain of atmospheric layers results in the twinkling rather “winkling” of stars and it appears to us as if the stars are either being put off and on alternately or changing their location to and fro. It is pertinent to note here that the stars appearing in the horizon at one time may seem doing this phenomenal twinkling more often than the ones appearing straight above in the sky the same time. This again testifies the belief that the light emanating from the relatively distant stars in the horizon has to travel considerably greater than the ones appearing above our heads in a given moment of time. Therefore, greater the layers of atmosphere traveled; greater will be the factor of REFRACTION involved, hence increased twinkling. For those who are truly interested in performing astronomical or spectroscopic experiments and the like, it helps a ton to be educated with the necessary details such as the path length of cuvette.

No twinkling is witnessed if a light emitting object is viewed from the space or from a celestial body having no gaseous environment about it. Likewise, if the object being seen is quite larger in view as planets that happen to be very close to earth relative to the stars, again there is no twinkling other than the case when it is stormy or hazy out there in the air. Owing to comparatively low intensity, the light reflected from the planets is able to illumine just a few receptors back in the eye. The factor of a light’s being dull or bright does not much account for in so far as to invigorate more and more receptors, rather, the thing that matters is the flux of photons (magnitude of light energy) entering the retina.

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