Why do constellations look the same after several years even though all the stars are moving?
It is said that all stars are moving at different speeds and directions. Believable enough, but why, after being around for 73 years, do the stars of the Big Dipper appear to me to be in the same relative position to one another?
The motion of stars is quite small at a few or a few tens of km/s. However, they are situated several light years away from us. let us take an example. Let a star be situated about 10 light years away from us (note that this is a nearby star) and move at 10 km/s. Then, in 100 years, the movement is approximately 30 billion km. The distance of the star from us in comparison is 90,000 billion kilometers. So its motion in 100 years is so small compared to its distance that we see the star in the same spot in the sky. However, if one waits for a few hundred thousand years, then one can definitely see the constellations change.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- How different would the night sky have looked in 40,000 B.C.?
- How do stars move in the Galaxy?
- Is there a "South Star"?
- How many constellations are there?
- What is the observational difference between a star and a planet?
- Do constellations looks the same from space?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 30883 times since April 29, 2002.
Last modified: December 16, 2002 1:50:22 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)