Measuring the Stars

As we cannot yet travel outside the solar system, we have to learn as much as we can about the stars by studying them at a distance.  Astronomers can tell the brightness, color, and temperature of a star by analyzing the light it gives out.

By splitting starlight into its constituent colors, they can find out what the stars are made of and how fast they are moving.

Stars are so far away, we are not normally aware of their movement through space. But over time this movement, called proper motion, changes the shapes of constellations dramatically.

Astronomers can figure out a constellation’s past and future shape by precisely measuring the positions of its stars over several years.

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