All About The Stars

On clear nights, it's always a pleasure to look up at the sky and see he twinkling lights of countless stars. These heavenly bodies have fascinated humans since time immemorial. Stories have been passed down from generation to generation to explain their origins. Some civilizations worshipped them, as they did other things in nature. Stars are sometimes used in fortune telling and horoscopes. Increasing knowledge has allowed us to gain more insights into these stars. We have used what we learned for practical c applications in various fields. Even so, the old ways of thinking continue to persist and their symbolic appeal lives on to this day.

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What are the stars?

The stars are basically the same as our Sun: large spheres that radiate energy and pull everything around them with their strong gravitational fields. They burn so bright that they can be seen light years away. Those that we see in the sky are from other galaxies and their light has travelled from a long time before they reach our eyes. How bright they appear will depend on a number of factors including the distance, the mass, and the age of the star. External factors like the amount of light pollution and cloud cover will also affect their visibility. 

Who uses the stars? and how?

Some of the brightest stars can be spotted regularly by night-watchers. Since they appear in certain patterns, these sets have been grouped into constellations for easy identification. There are various legends about their constellations involving gods, animals, heroes, and ordinary mortals. These used to be nothing more than tales to entertain and teach lessons. Some people have also used them for fortune telling, tracking the movements in the sky and giving these their own meaning. But what they are truly useful for is navigation. Ships at sea will find it hard to sail in the right direction without the guidance of stars. 

How are the stars named?

There are different ways to name stars. In the scientific world, astronomers will often study each constellation and rank the components by level of brightness. The one at the top will be designated as the Alpha, such as Alpha Centauri which is the brightest star in the Centaurus constellation. There's also Alpha Orionis from the Orion constellation which is more popularly known as Betelguese. It marks one of the shoulders of the hunter. This is the traditional name derived from Arabic designations. The names are organized by the International Astronomical Union. 

How do people buy the name of a star?

This is a service that is supposed to be offered by some companies but be careful about them. Only the IAU has the final say on what stars will be called for formal purposes such as scientific literature. Their catalogue remains as the standard when it comes to these matters. If a commercial entity gets fees for naming a star without any approval of the IAU, then it will not hold any meaning in the greater community. In fact, they have dissociated themselves from this practice. Be sure that you are aware of what is truly being sold before you consider parting with your money.