Can I see more stars from space?

Contributed by
Jul 20, 2008

In the live video chat over the weekend, I was asked a GREAT question: can you see more stars from a high altitude, like say from an airplane? This is a common question, and it makes the assumption that the Earth's atmosphere absorbs starlight; so if you go up high enough you'll see lots more stars.

Turns out, not so much. Here's why:

If you're curious, the image I put in the video from Hubble is reproduced below, but you really need to go take a look at the high-res version. It's not color, but it's still very cool.

Also, the beautiful image of Orion is from J P Stanley's Flickr set (reproduced under Creative Commons licensing, so if you like his picture go show him some love on Flickr).

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