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Why do stars twinkle? 9/28/2015 •

Why do stars twinkle?

Imagine a summer warm night and clear sky covered with thousands of blinking star diamonds. Very romantic and beautiful, but do you know why they actually blink? It happens because the Earthly atmosphere is warmed-up inhomogeneously.


Warm and cold air has different density, that's why the deflection angle of the light is also different when it is going through warm or cold atmospheric layers. Airflows are constantly moving and mixing, thus combination of cold and warm layers being always changed. As a result, a star may seem very changeable – first it may be bright and the next moment obscure. Sometimes it may even seem that a star is twitching. When viewed at high magnification a star may seem to change its shape and color.

Stars twinkle a lot right after the sunset, because a great number of warm airflows rise up into the atmosphere from the earthly surface that is warmed-up during the daytime.

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