When we look at the sky at night we can see celestial objects like the Moon, a few planets, and an uncountable number of stars that appear to us as small bright points of light. For centuries, the stars in the night sky served as inspiration to people all over the world. Stars have been featured not only in scientific study, but also in cultural stories and art. Astronomers have observed stars for centuries, first with naked eyes, later with telescopes from the ground and then from space. Little by little they have understood what a star is.
In art, stars are usually represented as pointed objects with five (or more) points. This is because the light from stars passes through the Earth's atmosphere through moving pockets of hot and cold air, causing stars to twinkle and look pointy. We see stars as very small as they are very far away. They look so small in fact they are just a small tiny dot of light. When our telescopes see these stars, the light gets bent inside around the rods which hold the mirrors in the telescope, giving a star four points. A similar thing happens in the eye due to structures inside it. This does not happen when we look at planets in our solar system because they look bigger so are disc shaped rather than a point of light. Up close, stars do not have any points. They are large spheres of very hot gas, like the Sun. The Sun is the star closest to our planet.
There are different types of stars. Our Sun is a yellow dwarf star. Stars have different colours and are classified as red, yellow, or blue. Red stars are the colder ones, while blue stars are the hottest, just like the different colours of the flame on a gas stove. Apart from yellow dwarves, there are many other types of stars, such as red giant. The red giant, or supergiant star, is bigger and cooler. When stars like our sun, run out of fuel (i.e. it runs out of hydrogen atoms to convert to helium atoms), the star expands to its red giant phase.
We have also heard of shooting stars. These are not actual stars but are meteorites: small pieces of rock flying through space that burn as they travel through the Earth’s atmosphere.