Why do stars twinkle

There have been times when there was no concrete explanation of the phenomenon of the twinkling of the stars. Thankfully, we have an acceptable explanation today. However, let us discuss both the conflicting theories that intended to unveil the secrets of the stars. The first one says that the twinkling of stars is caused by the action of ‘something’ that exists at the edge of the Solar system. This ‘something’, most probably, are gas clouds made up of molecules.

Inhabiting the far outskirts of the vast Solar system, these gas clouds undergo turbulence due to the passage of star light through them. This turbulence is that is perceived as the twinkling of stars from the Earth. Heavenly bodies like the Sun and Moon, being closer to the Earth, do not participate in this phenomenon, and consequently, do not exhibit any twinkling. Thus, this theory does claim to provide the answers to the regular questions regarding stars shining. The other theory bases its conclusion on studies conducted with Earth’s atmosphere. Stars are point sources of light, situated at extremely large astronomical distance from our planet, whereas the Sun and Moon are in relative proximity. Plus, the sizes of these bodies and the other planets become virtually large because of the fact that they reside close to the Earth.

What happens is that waves of cold and hot air keep on circulating in the near and distant skies. Light, upon interaction with these differential air currents, scatters unevenly and results into relative bright and dim outlooks. This is what is seen as the twinkling of stars. Though both the theories explain the phenomenon fairly convincingly, but only of them could be true! Explorations into deep space lifted the veil off and it has now been established that it is, in fact, Earth’s atmosphere that is responsible for the twinkling of stars. Though the second theory finds a great number of endorsers, a new breed of astronomers continues to argue that science is yet to unearth the scintillation phenomenon. They accept the premise of the theory, but contest the conclusions drawn out.

Atmospheric turbulence, they believe, does not establish anything in regards to the sharp change in light intensity of the stars. These astronomers believe that the twinkling phenomenon has a lot to do with the fact that several ”spheres” of light, emitted from the stars, combine in different quantities at the eye receptors, and create the effect of twinkling. The fact remains that the scintillation in stars is as intriguing as ever.