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Name: James
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: NV
Country: N/A
Date: N/A


Question:
I was wondering why do some stars show more then one color? I do not have a telescope but I use my binoculars and I see a bunch of colors going around these stars one at a time. The colors are red, blue, white, green, yellow, violet (colors are not necessarily in this order).


Replies:
Dear James,

All stars have a single color, though that changes over very long periods of time. They my appear to change color quickly because of the unsteadiness

of Earth's atmosphere, but those changes are not real.

David Levy


Stars emit a variety of wavelengths of visible light. The eye is not sufficiently sensitive to distinguish these various wavelengths (colors). The "colors" you see when using binoculars is due to distortions in the lenses of the binoculars, which cause the incoming light to focus at slightly different positions in the optical path (including the eye). Without specialized equipment to disperse the incoming light all stars appear approximately "white" to the eye. Again, what you are seeing has to do with the optics of the binocular and not the properties of the star.

Vince Calder



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