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Scientist explains why you can't ever see stars outside plane window when you're flying
Featured Image Credit: Chalabala/Getty / Kryssia Campos/Getty

Scientist explains why you can't ever see stars outside plane window when you're flying

Ever wondered why you can't see stars outside a plane window? Well, a scientist has explained why.

When we look at the night's sky, we'll often find a bunch of stars to gaze at - that is if it's a clear night's sky of course.

But have you ever tried stargazing from up above, perhaps from outside the window of an airplane? Well, if you have you may have noticed that you can't actually see anything.

But why is that? Luckily, we now have a scientist on hand to provide us with some answers.

The closest star to our planet is of course the sun, despite the fact it's a whopping 150,000,000 kilometres away.

But with that distance it only takes around eight minutes for light from the sun to reach us on earth.

Of course, any stars in the sky are incredibly far away from us - so whether we are on the ground or just 35,000 feet above it, your ability to see what shines in the night's sky should remain the same.

There are a variety of reasons as to why we often don't see stars outside of the plane window when we're flying.

You can't see stars out of a plane window can you?

As per an article from Science ABC, if you are flying above a metropolitan area at night you often won't see stars from the airplane window because of excessive artificial lighting down below.

Another reason as to why you don't see stars from the plane window is because of light from the moon.

But what about when you're flying over the ocean and the moon isn't at its brightest? Even then, you still can't see stars during your flight.

Stars are certainly best seen from the ground.

Well, the main reason for no stargazing from the airplane window is due to the artificial lighting in the cabin.

Regular flyers will know it's quite common for the lights to be dimmed when travelling overnight, though you are not often sat in complete darkness.

Theoretical astrophysicist and science writer Ethan Siegel explained on Medium: "You can understand this pretty easily if you think about being in your own house at night. If you have the lights on inside but it’s dark outside, who can see what?

"From outside the house, someone looking in can see everything you’re up to. But if you want to see what’s going on outside, you need to turn off the lights inside and turn out the lights outside, don’t you?

"As a general rule, it needs to be darker at the place where you’re looking from than the place you’re looking to, or you won’t be able to see much of anything.

"If it weren’t for the lights of the plane itself, you would, in fact, be able to have some of the best skies available to humans."

Well, that is a bummer.

Topics: Science, Travel