3D sky: How astronomers measure the size, luminosity and distance of stars


Anyone interested in astronomy realizes that the stars are scattered through three-dimensional space and not, as the ancients thought, points of light affixed to a celestial sphere. The night sky has often appeared to many as a kind of ceiling or vault.

Stars in general are distributed randomly in space. Their various patterns and configurations would look quite different if we could view them from elsewhere in our galaxy. Constellations as such, are but chance arrangements in space. But from here on Earth, we can also get the same effect by looking out over a town or village at night and taking note of how streetlights and lamps in houses can also form a “constellation.” 


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