Home » Ask Physics » Starry Night : Why do stars twinkle? Can you answer?

Starry Night : Why do stars twinkle? Can you answer?

We have been hearing the rhyme “twinkle twinkle little star” since we were kids.

Why stars twinkle? Can anyone give a fitting explanation?

See below a world famous painting “Starry Nights” by Van Gogh.


  1. yes,i can probably answer this one.stars appear to twinkle b’coz we see them through the layers of the earth’s atmosphere.light is distorted as it passes through these layers,so that the amount we see changes constantly.stars nearest to the horizon seem to twinkle the most b’coz the light is passing through a greater depth of the atmosphere.stars do not twinkle when viewed from space.

  2. No stars actually don’t twinkle . They seems to us twinkling because the light travelling to our eyes from their source crosses many layers of atmosphere and the light gets refracted. Different layers of atmosphere have different refractive index and because of that angle of refraction also changes and so we see stars twinkling.

  3. The twinkling of stars is due to atmospheric refraction of starlight. The starlight,on entering the earths atmosphere,undergoes refraction continuously before it reaches to the earth.the atmospheric refraction occurs in a medium of gradually changing refractive index.since stars are very distant, they approximate point-sized source of light.As the path of the rays of light coming from the star goes on varying slightly , the apparent position of the star fluctuates so stars seems to be twinkling.
    but why planets do not twinkle ?????

  4. It’s the way the ‘cells’ in the air move. They have different sizes and movements, and they move between the viewer and the distant object causing a continuing distortion.

  5. Yep the answers are all corrrect. The twinkiling comes from atmospheric distortion and stars closer to the horizon twinkle the most(more atmosphere to look through), espescially the brighter stars like sirius. If you’re an stronomer, the less twinkling the better as that means the atmosphere is stable and this gives you better views through a telescope.

  6. The twinkling of stars or as scientifically known as stellar scintillation is due to the fact that when travelling from rarer medium (vaccum) to denser medium (air of earth’s atmosphere) star light travels through various layers and experiences refractions many times and in random directions. This random refractions let us see the twinkling of stars.

    PS : I am not so expert in dealing with such kind of questions, but yes this question was in my assignment which the people at Tutorskingdom helped me to do.

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