The Difference between Stars and Planets

It’s easy to remember the difference between stars and planets if we think of stars as gas,and planets as matter. Stars are,apparently, really gigantic hydrogen bombs which emit their own light, while a planet is one of the large solid masses which (in our case) revolves around the sun and can only reflect like a mirror. Contrary to popular belief, stars don’t, however, “burn.”

Stars are like giant hydrogen bombs in that their energy comes from the fusion of atoms of hydrogen to form an atom of helium and of helium to form more complex elements. Some speak of the light they emit in terms of burning. This is misleading as nothing can really be said to “burn” in empty space. The light or energy emitted from the stars or sun can be better described as “fusion.”

Stars are huge shining balls of plasma which hold together through the effects of gravity. Our nearest example is the Sun but when this is not shining too brightly, we can see many others. From ancient times, the most important of these have been grouped into constellations.

So although the planets look much like the stars to our naked eye, they are really very different. The difference between stars and planets is fundamental.Planets are all much closer and smaller than the stars and they don’t produce any light of their own,they just mirror the light from the sun. Also, the planets move around the sun. All but Pluto have their orbits more or less in the same plane and all move around the sun in the same direction.

The pattern of the stars, though, seems to rotate around a fixed point, marked by the Pole. Actually, it is the stars which stay fixed, while we on our planet Earth, spin on Earth’s axis.

Throughout the year, we stargazers can be mesmerised by these glittering sparkles in a different part of the violet sky every night. Real star-crazy types like my family, even stick replica ones on their kids ceilings so they can still have stars when it is cloudy or drizzly!

In fact, if it wasn’t for blue diffused light, we could still enjoy the stars during the day! We would be able to see the Stars And Light Show to beat all shows, as the Sun would be seen to pass once around the sky per year, cutting through twelve constellations in turn!