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HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED… HOW MANY STARS ARE THERE IN THE UNIVERSE?

By: Efraim Harari



There are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe, and each galaxy can have over 100 billion stars, so, as you can imagine, the number of stars in the universe is quite staggering. But in order to fully appreciate the answer to exactly how many stars there are, a bit of history and background information is needed.

Thousands of years ago, the Babylonian astronomers were certain that there were only 6,000 stars in the universe. Astronomers universally accepted this count until about 500 years ago. In the last 100 years, with the invention of powerful telescopes and satellites, it has become clear that the number of stars is immeasurably more than previously imagined. Today, scientists estimate that the number of stars in the universe is a septillion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

It is interesting to note that scientists call this number an estimated amount; they claim that even nowadays, with the most advanced instruments available, they still cannot ascertain an exact number. It is understood that even this estimation will likely be changed again and again. This is because some of the material in the universe – such as brown dwarfs (formations between a star and a planet) and black holes – is dark and thus cannot be observed. Also, new stars are constantly forming, and old stars are constantly dying.

However, the Gemara in Berachot (32b) gives an exact calculation of the number of stars in the universe (see Torah Talk section). According to the Gemara, there are 1,064,340,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe. TheAmoraim determined the number of the stars at the time of Creation in a clear fashion, and not as an estimation. They didn’t need any sophisticated telescopes to reach their conclusion, and even when the rest of the world believed otherwise, they knew that the universe has a lot more than 6,000 stars. And as the Torah is from Hashem, we know that all of it is true, and that the number of stars stated in the Gemara is exactly how many stars there are in the universe.

Torah Talk

The Number of Stars
in the Universe

By studying the Torah, one is able to determine the exact number of stars in the universe. It says in the Gemara (Berachot 32b):

“The Holy One said to her, to the Congregation of Israel: My daughter,
12 constellations have I created in the sky. And for each constellation, I created
30 chayil [i.e., troop leaders] over separate divisions. And for each and every chayil, I created 30 ligion [this term and those that follow refer to various levels of military authority, similar to lieutenant, captain, etc.]. And for each and every ligion I created 30 rahaton, and for each and every rahaton I created 30 karton, and for each and every karton I created 30 gistra, and upon each and every gistra I hung 365 thousand of ten-thousands of stars, corresponding to the 365 days of the sun. And all of them,
I did not create except for your sake.”

What is the sum total of all the stars, according to
the Gemara?

12 x 30 x 30 x 30 x 30 x 30 x 365,000 x 10,000 = 1.06 x 1018

Did You Know?

Stars do not twinkle. What we see as twinkling is really an occurrence caused by the constant movement of air in the Earth’s atmosphere. Starlight enters the atmosphere as straight rays of light. Twinkling occurs because air movements change the path of the light as it comes through the air.

Star Bright

Sirius, also known
as the Dog Star,
is the brightest star in Earth's night sky.
Its name means “glowing” in Greek.