Scintillate, Scintillate Little Star...

If you have a chance to get out with a youngster on a night when the stars are twinkling, it might be interesting to point out the phenomenon and ask why the stars twinkle. Is it a characteristic of the stars themselves? Some children may remember that on many nights the stars shine quite steadily. On a turbulent night, they should be able to observe that all of the stars, not just a few, twinkle. This may lead to the reasonable conclusion that the state of the atmosphere makes the difference. After I pointed out to my daughter that in our area the scintillation (twinkling) often occurs when the hot winds come off the desert, she asked if it could be caused by the heat waves. She said the heat waves quiver, so the light could quiver.

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