Commentary: The Reasons the Night Sky Isn’t White

night sky reflecting on a lake

The night sky, in all its astral beauty, has ever been a source of wonder for the human race. But over a century ago, some astronomers looked up and saw a paradox.

Why, they wondered, if the Universe is infinite, with an infinite number of stars, is the night sky not white? Every direction we look, there should be a star whose light has traveled all the way to Earth. So the night sky should be a sea of sunlight!

This conundrum is commonly called¬†Olbers’ paradox, named after the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers, who wrote about it in the early 1800s, though he was not the first, nor the only, thinker to ponder it.

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