Dave Reneke | 100 billion stars in the sky ... at a guess

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and wondered just how many stars there are in space?

I bet you have. I know I get asked this question quite a lot. Probably more than any other question.

Look into the sky on a clear night and you’ll see a few thousand individual stars with your naked eyes.

With even a small amateur telescope, millions more will come into view.

Stars are not scattered randomly through space, they’re gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies.

The Sun belongs to our galaxy which, of course, is called the Milky Way.

Astronomers estimate there are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way alone.

Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies as well.

Ok, the Universe is a pretty big place, so now for the big question … just how many stars does it contain?

That’s a hard question to answer.  In fact, it’s probably impossible.

Just remember this – there are more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on every beach in the world. 

Just think about that for a minute – because it’s pretty hard to get your head around.

For every grain of sand you find, there are a million stars out there. 

CROWDED: Astronomers estimate there are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.

CROWDED: Astronomers estimate there are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.

Amazing isn’t it? But it’s true.

Remember too that the stars rise about four minutes earlier every night – about two hours a month in total.

They march across the sky each night from east to west, the same direction as the Sun and all the planets.

So, which way do you think the earth would rotate?

Of course, from west to east, but you already knew that.

The truth is the stars have been there for billions of years, unchanging and fixed to the firmament.

If you came back to the exact spot you’re standing on right now, in exactly twelve months time, the same stars and constellations would be in same positions in the sky.

That’s because during the course of a whole year the entire sky rotates once over our heads.

See, despite what you might think, astronomy isn’t that hard to figure out.

Visit Dave’s website www.davidreneke.com for his free astronomy newsletter.