Why Are Stars Star-Shaped?

Our sun is spherical, so why is it that other stars look... star-shaped in the night sky? Actually, it's all down to the quirks of light and your (imperfect) eyes.

In this video, Minute Physics explains how a single point of light — like a star in the night sky — can be distorted as it passes through lenses and other structures. Even our eyes, which we think of as seeing the world accurately, distort the light from stars because of their biological structure. In fact, its those quirks that mean each and every one of use see the night's stars in a subtly different way. Watch the video to find out why that's the case. [Minute Physics]


Comments

    I think most people that are asked to draw a star, draw it like a star shape because that's the shape that everyone knows as a star (the shape, not a planet). Much like if you ask someone to draw a circle, a rectangle, a square. They are just shapes. If you asked then to draw the sun (which is a star) then they would draw it as a circle. When asked to draw a star, I don't think people would be thinking sun but the shape that is a star.
    Maybe eons ago someone looked into the sky and thought that the stars (suns) looked star shaped and drew it as such but nobody nowadays thinks that.

      You're right, though I'm surprised you didn't point to the obvious example of how most people will draw a heart.

      That said interesting video, I'd known about similar effects in photography but never really thought about it with eyes. (You can actually get little camera filters that will change the shape of lights when they're out of focus, similarly many people will judge how good an aperture it is by how smoothly and round it creates those little bokeh balls.)

        Didn't even think about the heart shape but yes, that's the perfect example.

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