I'm not sure I understand your question. Do you
mean, why can't you see the stars that lie beyond
our galaxy from the earth? Or do you mean how come
you can't see the stars if you are in outer
I'll assume you meant the first one.
When you say "outer space", how far away do
you mean? Do you mean beyond our galaxy?
true that most of the individual stars that we can
see are within our own galaxy, however some of the
bright objects that you see when you look out are
not stars, but groups of trillions and trillions
of stars that are so far away, that without a
telescope they look like points of light to us,
just like stars.
Some of these objects are
"globular clusters". To your naked eye they look
like stars, but with a small telescope, or even a
good pair of binoculars, they look like cotton
balls of light. They are actually groups of very
old stars, held together by gravity, about 100
billion or so stars. There are a number of ancient
globular clusters that seem to be orbiting around
the center of our galaxy.
You can find them in
the summer, on a clear night, when the
constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius are in the
sky towards the west, in the early night time
hours. (You could see these now, but you'd have to
get up around 2 or 3 AM!) If you look right
between Scorpius and Sagittarius, you are looking
toward the center of our galaxy, and if you look
in that direction it is a good place to hunt for
globulars. So that is one type of bright object
outside our galaxy, in "outer space" that you can
see from the ground.
You can also see other
galaxies - again, these look like stars to the
naked eye, but with a telescope you can tell that
they are galaxies.Occasionally, we can actually
see a single star in a distant galaxy that is
when a star explodes into a supernova. At that
moment, that one star is as bright or brighter
than the whole galaxy! Supernovae stay bright for
a few days to a few weeks, as the light from the
explosion slowly fades away.
Mostly, you need a
telescope to see these supernovae (that's plural
for supernova, since "nova" is a Latin word
meaning "new"), but occasionally people can see
them with their naked eyes.
A recent example
(but probably before you were born) is Supernova
1987a - that is, the first supernova found in
1987. That one was visible from the Southern
Hemisphere, from the ground, without telescopes.
Other examples in history are Tycho's supernova
which occurred sometime in the 1500's and was
visible in the Northern Hemisphere, and a
supernova that exploded around 1000, which is
documented in ancient Chinese records and rock
paintings of Native people of North America, as
well as in some literature from that time in
Also, the Hubble Space Telescope can
see many more stars than we can see from the
ground, because there is no atmosphere in space to
make the stars blurry or dim.
Now, if you meant
in your question, how come you can't see stars if
you are in space, the answer is you can see stars
from out there. You can see many more, in fact,
than you can from the ground! And, you may even
get to go into space in your lifetime!!!
Click Here to return to the search form.