How many stars can you see at night?

The number of stars that you can see on a clear (moonless) night in a dark area (far away from city lights) is about 2000. Basically, the darker the sky, the more stars you can see. Moonlight brightens the night sky and reduces the number of stars you can see. A full Moon brightens the sky more than a crescent Moon or half Moon. Artificial lights also reduce the number of stars you can see. In a large city, which has a lot of bright lights at night, you may only be able to see the brightest dozen stars. As the night sky gets brighter, the faintest stars disappear from view first. A major problem for ground based astronomers is what we call "light pollution" - the increase in man-made light sources which affects observations of the night sky.


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Learn about IRAS, the first infrared telescope launched into Earth's orbit!