Stars twinkle, but planets don't?

In summary, the conversation discusses the reason behind stars twinkling and why planets do not seem to exhibit the same behavior. It is explained that stars twinkle due to varying temperatures and movement in the atmosphere, causing the light to refract. It is also mentioned that the size of the image plays a role, as stars are point sources and planets have a larger size.
  • #1
fatty
1
0
Hello everyone - newbie here. Am I right to say that stars twinkle because of regions of the atmosphere being at different (and varying) temperatures and pressures etc., giving rise to a variation in refractive index and consequently a shifting image of the observed object? If so, why don't I observe planets to do the same thing? I thought it might be because planets appear much brighter, but then don't some stars shine more brightly than some planets at times? Thanks.
 
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  • #2
Stars twinkle because of the movement and different temperatures in the atmosphere cause the light to refract. You have that part right, the reason that planets do not seem to twinkle (I have seen Saturn twinkle when close too the horizon) is not due to the brightness but it is due to the size of the image. Stars are point sources and planets have some size too them.
 

1. Why do stars twinkle while planets do not?

Stars appear to twinkle because of the Earth's atmosphere. As light from a star travels through the atmosphere, it is affected by pockets of air with different temperatures and densities. This causes the light to bend and flicker, giving the appearance of twinkling. Planets, on the other hand, are much closer to Earth and their light is not as affected by the atmosphere.

2. Can planets ever twinkle?

While planets do not typically twinkle, under certain conditions they may appear to do so. If the atmosphere is particularly turbulent, or if the planet is very low on the horizon, its light may be distorted enough to create a twinkling effect.

3. Do all stars twinkle the same?

No, stars do not all twinkle in the same way. The amount and type of twinkling depends on the star's distance from Earth, its brightness, and the atmospheric conditions. Stars that are further away and appear brighter in the sky are more likely to twinkle.

4. Can you see planets twinkle with a telescope?

Even with a telescope, planets do not typically appear to twinkle. This is because the telescope is able to magnify the planet's light, making it less affected by the atmosphere. However, under certain atmospheric conditions, some twinkling may still be visible.

5. Are there any planets that do twinkle?

Technically, all planets can twinkle under the right conditions. However, since they are much closer to Earth than stars, the effect is not as noticeable. The most likely planet to twinkle would be Venus, as it is the brightest planet in the sky and can appear low on the horizon, creating more atmospheric distortion.

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