There are 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the visible universe. Give or take a few.

Today’s isn’t-that-an-interesting-bit-of-trivia comes from some astronomers at the International Astronomical Union conference in Sydney that have come up with a rough estimate of just how many little points of light make up the visible universe. The answer: 70 sextillion, or seven followed by 22 zeroes.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Astronomers count the stars

Astronomers in Australia say there are 10 times more stars in the visible Universe than all the grains of sand on the world’s beaches and deserts.

From the darkest parts of Earth, the naked human eye can see about 5,000 stars; from a brightly lit city street, only about 100.

But modern telescopes tell a different story.

The Australian astronomers used some of the world’s most powerful instruments to measure the brightness of all the galaxies in one sector of the cosmos – and then calculated how many stars they must have contained.

The scientists hastened to add that this number is only for stars within the range of our most powerful telescopes and that there could be countless more out there. Due to the limitations on the speed of light it’s more than likely that many of the stars at the furthest edges of the visible spectrum have long since died out and new stars may have developed that can’t be seen because their light hasn’t reached Earth as of yet. A boggling thought to try and comprehend.

Anyway, the next time someone asks you how many stars in the heavens you can tell them confidently that it’s somewhere in the 70 sextillion range, at least that we can see.

15 thoughts on “There are 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the visible universe. Give or take a few.

  1. Stars evolve? What are you thinking that they start of as tiny litte asteroids, crawl out of the great cosmic soup to become planets, and then “evolve” into stars? This is what happens when religion tries to replace science…please do not fear books and knowledge.

    They are your friends.

  2. OK Joe (from Australia), put the crack pipe down and slowly back away. You’ve had enough for one day.

    Seriously, the answer to your over-punctuated question depends on what you meant by the word “evolved.” Are you speaking in a biological context? If so then the answer is no, all the stars didn’t evolve as they are not living organic creatures. If you meant it as a synonym for “changed over time” then the answer is yes, all the stars evolved and continue to do so.

    I suspect what you really meant to ask was something along the lines of “And all these happened by chance?” Except you would have avoided capitalization and added more punctuation to emphasize how stunning you find the concept of random chance as an explanation for anything ever happening anywhere in the entire universe.

    To which I answer, yes, all of these stars just happened to develop by chance. Pure old dumb luck as it were. Does that take “incredible faith,” as you so eloquently put it? I’d say it takes less faith than believing some supernatural dude made it all happen by simply thinking about it.

  3. If I thought for even a second that he was not trying to ridicule Darwinism through a faulty understanding of stellar processes I would go sit in the corner wearing a funny hat.

  4. just curious….. did stars evolve all at once
    i don’t want to attack you or anything

  5. It would probably help if you didn’t use the world “evolve” because you’re confusing the issue. If what you’re asking is: Did all the stars come into existence at the same time? The answer is no.

    Cosmologists have studied lots of younger stars as well as stars that have been dead for eons. They’ve even managed to find what appear to be stars in the act of being formed. The life cycle of a star is measured in billions of years which can make it tricky to catch things at the beginning or the end.

  6. Eric
    You said;
    “please do not fear books and knowledge”.
    I don’t fear books or knowledge, and I don’t have a problem with there being 70 sextillion stars out there. What I do have problem with is that evolution says I came from ‘nothing’ that exploded, then some soup stuff bubbled around and then yippee, here we are today. It’s saying I’m just a chemical in one big process.
    Is that what I’m worth? I’d rather believe I was created on purpose to actually have some meaning in life.
    Les
    You said;
    “…emphasize how stunning you find the concept of random chance as an explanation for anything ever happening anywhere in the entire universe.”
    You’re saying the earth came by random chance. I’m saying it has purpose and meaning.
    If you want to get into chance, fine. Look at Dolly the cloned sheep. Top scientists gathered together and did everything right to make a perfect clone, yet she still had so many faults. So when scientists TRIED to make something perfect, it doesn’t work, then random chance creates a perfect universe with full functioning and complex human beings. ‘Random chance’ didn’t try to make a perfect universe, yet it randomly happened?
    Mate, look around can’t you see design?

  7. So Sheriff,
    I believe;
    In the beginning God,
    and you believe
    In the beginning Dirt.
    I say no more.

  8. Eric
    You said;
    “please do not fear books and knowledge”.
    I don’t fear books or knowledge, and I don’t have a problem with there being 70 sextillion stars out there. What I do have problem with is that evolution says I came from ‘nothing’ that exploded, then some soup stuff bubbled around and then yippee, here we are today. It’s saying I’m just a chemical in one big process. Is that what I’m worth? I’d rather believe I was created on purpose to actually have some meaning in life.

    OK, let’s get one thing straight right away: Evolution says NOTHING ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. OK?!? That’s COSMOLOGY. Evolution as a theory is only concerned with biological processes and that’s it. It doesn’t say ANYTHING pro or con about whether or not there was a Big Bang or what existed prior to the Big Bang or how the stars came to be or how the planet formed or ANYTHING that isn’t a BIOLOGICAL PROCESS.

    Do you GET IT now? Have I USED ENOUGH CAPS to get this EXCEEDINGLY SIMPLE CONCEPT through to you people yet??

    Yes, all life is just one big chemical process. So what of it? Why do you think that your life is without purpose unless some magical old guy created you? For that matter, what POSSIBLE purpose could you hold for an entity with the power to do WHATEVER THE FUCK IT WANTS?!?! If God can do ANYTHING then why the hell does he need you?!? To tell him how stupendously-amazingly-awesome he is? If that’s your only purpose in life then I’d say that’s not a whole lot better than having no purpose at all.

    Les
    You said;
    “…emphasize how stunning you find the concept of random chance as an explanation for anything ever happening anywhere in the entire universe.”
    You’re saying the earth came by random chance. I’m saying it has purpose and meaning.

    Fine. Please enlighten me as to what that purpose and meaning is. I’m listening.

    If you want to get into chance, fine. Look at Dolly the cloned sheep. Top scientists gathered together and did everything right to make a perfect clone, yet she still had so many faults. So when scientists TRIED to make something perfect, it doesn’t work, then random chance creates a perfect universe with full functioning and complex human beings. ‘Random chance’ didn’t try to make a perfect universe, yet it randomly happened?

    Scientists didn’t try to make a “perfect” anything with Dolly. They just wanted to see if they could clone a complex animal. They also didn’t do everything right and they’ve said as much themselves. As for ‘random chance creates a perfect universe’ let’s again point out that you are attributing anthropomorphic qualities to the idea of “random chance”, which is just stupid. “Random Chance” doesn’t try to create anything. And who said the Universe is perfect?

    Mate, look around can’t you see design?

    No, Mate, I can’t. If this is the best your supposedly “perfect” God can do then he’s pretty pathetic if you ask me. I can think of all manner of things I would’ve done differently that would have made for a much better reality and I’m not even close to being a ‘perfect’ being.

    So Sheriff,
    I believe;
    In the beginning God,
    and you believe
    In the beginning Dirt.
    I say no more.

    Man, you just can’t get away from trying to force your limited concepts onto other people. Sheriff Jay didn’t say anything about believing he evolved from dirt.

  9. Berkely University Doesn’t Seem To Think So. I believe they call it COSMIC EVOLUTION.

    Which is not the Theory of Evolution! If it were it wouldn’t have the fucking word COSMIC in front of it.

    Well, no. Because your wrong.

    No, you’re just fucking clueless. You’re trying to take two different theories and lump them together as if they dealt with the same thing, which they do not.

    Your lack of caps lock let you down here Les. If life is just one big chemical process we have no meaning or purpose to even to be ALIVE. You might as well curl up in a ball and die. You will only be helping the evolution process for man to get better and better. Then why do people want to be even alive? And save lives? Why is there that inner self that wants to live and keep going? And you wonder why suicide rates are up? Crikey, they just read some evolution book and go; “Hey what’s there to live for”. One of those Columbine shooters had ‘Natural Selection’ on his shirt and did it on Adolf Hitler’s birthday on purpose.  Me, I’ve got a reason to live. I’m following God then when I die i’ll go to heaven from following His ways. I hate to say it but i’ll probably be watching you burning in hell (you still have to time change). Spewing.

    You may feel that without God you don’t have a purpose, but I disagree. In fact, I have multiple purposes all of which are things I decided upon myself. Life has meaning because I give it meaning.

    Simply ‘curling into a ball and dieing’ doesn’t help promote Evolution in any way. Evolution is a gradual process that occurs through replication. If I were to just curl up in a ball and die without procreating then I am not furthering the course of Evolution. And, please, show me the study that indicates suicide rates are up due to people’s sense of hopelessness after accepting Evolution as a real process. Give me a fucking break.

    Yes, Harris had on a white tee-shirt with the words “Natural Selection” on it. So what? Klebold had a tee-shirt that had the word “WRATH” on it. I could just as easily claim that he felt he was acting as a God because of it. As for the Columbine Shooters picking Adolf Hitler’s Birthday, that’s a myth. According to the official report on the Columbine shootings the indications are from the materials the shooters left behind that “There were also indications that Harris and Klebold initially planned the shootings to occur on April 19.  They specifically mentioned Monday and another time said, “Today is the 11th, eight more days.” They never articulated why they chose the day they did and never mentioned that April 19 was the anniversary of Waco, Texas or the Oklahoma City bombing.  They never verbalized that they even knew April 20 is Adolph Hitler

  10. I’m sorry, but all I can see when I think of God is this scraggly bearded Popeye looking character saying “I yam that I yam and that’s all that I yam. I’m YHWH the Seder man! Heh-yuk-yuk-yuk-yuk.”

  11. Hey Joe,
    The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.GEN 2:7.
    Dust/dirt I was always taught it was the same thing. I was poking fun at how most christians I know get deeply offended when someone suggests they may have evolved from apes. As if dirt or dust has a higher inteligence.

    You got me torked about the Columbine thing though. I know you are in or from another country so I’ll cut you some slack. Inspite the all what you may have heard, the shooting was not a supernatural manifestation of satan. In that area there is four schools within a few miles of each other. I went to one and my wife another. Anyway, the division between cliques is huge! I am a bit older than Eric and Dillon were, but came from the same clique. We were the scary, long haired, anti-religious, leather jacket, trench coat types. Now, the reason we dresed like that was not because the devil made us or subliminal messages in rock music or even drugs ( most of us didn’t do drugs, me included). You see, sitting right smack dab in the middle of the bible belt, most people, especially in that area, are DEVOUT christians. That said, the offspring of these wackos tend to be the large, jock, sport-o types. Large, jock, sport-o types for one reason or another, like to use smaller kids for punching bags and batting practice. Sooner or later you realize that dressing scary and listening to “devil” music FRIGHTENS THE SHIT out of the large,jock sport-o types and they tend to leave the scary kids alone, especially scary kids in somewhat large groups.
    Now, I didn’t know Eric or Dillon personally but some of my friends did. (An old high school friend of mine, Mark Manes, sold them the mac 10.)I’ve walked a mile in thier shoes. They snapped. plain and simple. “The devil” had nothing to do with it. They were not skinheads or white supremacist. They were beat on, kicked, spat on, pushed, knocked down, had glass bottles thrown at them, harassed, humiliated, and tourmented five days a week. They snapped.
    Now I think what they did was unspeakably wrong. Had they not killed themselves I think they should have been punished to the full extent of the law.
    They did though, kill themselves. I believe they were of the mindset that they no longer wanted to live wanted to take the people who made them feel that way with them and didn’t care who was in the way.
    I’ve been there.
    I did not act on my feelings cause The school I went to (about 5 miles away)and the time frame I went there, I had alot more “scary stoner kid” friends for support. there were about 20 or 30 at my school but I know there were alot less at Columbine.
    Once again, I do NOT think what those kids did that day was right in anyway.
    I can’t stand it, though, when some christian moron trys to say that “the devil made em do it” or “Marilyn Manson told em to do it” or “Hitler possesed em” or ” If the ten commandments were posted in the hall it would not have happened”.
    The plain and simple truth is that those two and many other school shooters were tormented and tortured and humiliated daily. THAT is the cause.
    INTOLERANCE is the root.

  12. Isn’t it absolutely interesting how a simple discussion about the number of visible stars can turn into a debate about reality, belief and creation?

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