Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

What is the difference between a "star" and a "sun"?

Are all of the points of light in the night sky, other than the moon, planets, and artificial satellites, that we call stars also suns?

A star is called a "sun" if it is the center of a planetary system. A large number of planets have been found that orbit other stars, thus making these stars officially "suns." Chances are that a large percentage of the stars in the galaxy also have planets orbiting them, which would make them suns as well. The number of extrasolar planets that have been detected is increasing very rapidly, as we find new planetary systems. So a large number of the stars that you see are also suns. However, many objects in the night sky are not stars. You mentioned man-made satellites, planets and the moon. From earth, there are many other objects that we see as points of light, such as far-away galaxies, so not every point of light is a star!

March 2003, Cathy Jordan (more by Cathy Jordan) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about Stars: Previous | Next

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 94454 times since March 6, 2003.
Last modified: March 6, 2003 4:02:46 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
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)