Have you ever stared up at the stars in the night sky and wondered how many there are? If so, you’re not alone. That question has fascinated astronomers, artists and dreamers of all ages since the beginning of time.

Famous astronomer Carl Sagan once estimated that there must be “billions upon billions” of stars in the universe. If you’ve ever tried to count the stars in the night sky, you may have concluded that it would be impossible to count them all.

Guess what? You’d be absolutely right!

Before we get to the mind-boggling estimates that modern astronomers have made, let’s start “small” and get some perspective. We live on planet Earth, which orbits around a star we call the sun.

The Earth and the sun, along with several other planets, make up a solar system, which is part of a larger grouping of stars called a “galaxy.”

Our particular galaxy is known as the Milky Way. Scientists estimate that there are 200 billion to 400 billion — yes, that’s billion with a “b” — stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Our sun is just one of those 200 billion to 400 billion stars.

If that blows your mind, just wait! Our Milky Way galaxy is just one of the many galaxies in our universe.

How many? Believe it or not, astronomers estimate there are 100 billion to 200 billion galaxies in the universe, each of which has hundreds of billions of stars.

If your mind is reeling, that’s OK. It’s hard for most people to imagine the size of the universe. Check out this video if you want to see how one person tries to put the size of the universe into perspective.

So how many stars are there? In truth, there are too many to count. Current estimates are just guesses.

Even using our most advanced telescopes and technology, we still cannot see to the ends of our universe. Further complicating things, closer stars that are particularly bright also block our ability to see beyond them in certain directions.

Scientists use observations and data we do have, along with assumptions about our galaxy and the other galaxies in the universe, to estimate the number of stars. Recently, though, some scientists challenged some of the assumptions scientists have been using for years.

The result? Scientists now believe there may be three times more stars than scientists previously estimated.

Why? Astronomers now believe there may be many more red dwarf stars — the most common type of star in the universe — than previously thought.

Based on the latest estimates, astronomers estimate our universe could be the home to 300 sextillion stars. Just how many is that? This many:

300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

That’s a 3 with 23 zeroes after it. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of stars. As technology improves and we get even better glimpses at the far corners of the universe, we may eventually find that the number of stars is even greater than anyone could ever imagine!

 

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  1. I am in awe of the expansive night sky and the number sextillion! I never heard of that number before. Some of my favorite memories are of lying on my back, looking up at the amazing number of stars in the night sky. Thanks for the new info and making me remember.

  2. This a such a great way to teach people, children and adults alike, about numbers that are just too big to count or comprehend.

    Star gazing is fun evening activity. Seeing paterns in the sky, counting…

    I agree there are just and endless supply of stars

  3. Scientist say there are 300 sextillion stars which is the amount I would love to have for our budget for next year …. lol

  4. My four-year old daughter enjoys counting the stars she sees outside some nights. Each day it changes depending on what numbers she has learned that week …. and also when she gets tired of counting, she claims that is all the stars she sees.

  5. in our classroom, we talk about how there are so many stars in the sky… more than we can ever know. but each one is just like each student. bright and very important. we talk about shining our brightest every day!

  6. millions and millions too many to count but i love to see them in a farm place away from the city and i will guest a number 450,000,000,000…..

  7. I believe there are zillions of stars that is what i thought my own children and the students I had when I was in the classroom.
    It does not really matter how many stars are on the firmament as long as we all act like them bright and shine towards the people we come in contact with respecting them and treat them just like we want to be treated.

  8. There are more stars than I could ever count but enjoy teaching my kids that they are just like Buzz Light Year’s motto “Infinity and beyond!” That’s a 6 and a lot of zeroes!

  9. I’m shooting for the stars…so when I get there I’ll let you know! They say its estimated 300 sextillion, but I am sure there are more because I believe we haven’t even tapped into our full capabilities to what the Universe holds!

  10. I just finished exploring the amazing program downstairs at NCFL and met some wonderful people (Duane) to learn more about the site. I can’t wait to wear my new shirt at school this week! On a side note, I do not know how many stars there are all I know is that my mom taught me, “Look up at the stars when you are missing someone and they are looking at the same stars.” Always brought comfort to me. Thanks Wonderopolis for a wonder question.

  11. These are WONDERful guesses, Wonder Friends…EVERY ONE of them! You are ALL STARS in Wonderopolis’ eyes! :-)

  12. Yes, there are too many to count and is the exact number really that important when you’re up in those numbers? What is important is that we tell our children to reach for the stars and run with them!

  13. There are 3 billion 955 million 974 thousand 100 and one stars in the universe. 3 of them are for my wife and two boys!

  14. the amount of stars in the universe is unknown. stars are being born and dieing in huge bursts called supernovas. stars come and go every day!

    p.s. there should be a wonder of the day called how big is the universe

    • Thanks for another AWESOME comment, Jacob9! Sounds like you know a lot about the universe!

      Did you know that you can nominate your very own Wonder of the Day whenever you want to? Just click on the “nominate a wonder” link at the top of every page in Wonderopolis.org. It’s easy to fill out the form and let us know what you’re WONDERing! :-)

    • That’s a LOT of stars, Zaid! Thanks so much for exploring this Wonder and for WONDERing even more about it when you were done! We think that is AWESOME! :-)

  15. I love it when you go outside on a clear night and can see the stars. Sometimes I think it’s a bit scary to think that we are just a small spec in the infinite amount of space. Being a astronaut has got to be so cool when you look down and see earth and probably the moon and who knows what other kinds of things you see! I also found out that stars are being formed all the time (Thank you Zaid Al-ruwaishan)! Space is an endlessly intriguing subject that really interests me!

    • This was a WONDERful comment, Allison! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! We know what you mean about feeling small sometimes when you look up into the great, big night sky and see all of those billions of stars. We agree with you about how awesome it must be to work as an astronaut, too! We didn’t know you were friends with Zaid…he’s a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  16. We just got done watching about how many stars there are in the universe as a pre-lesson to one of our Earth and Space indicators. We learned many great things about the solar system, but the one thing that struck my students was that there were up to 400 billion stars just in our universe and that the universe is so big. Makes what we have here pretty cool. My class is still wondering how a star is formed? Thanks for your help!

    • You guys sure impressed us with your WONDERing, Room 234! We agree…that’s a LOT of stars, and our universe IS pretty huge and pretty cool!

      Guess what? We have another Wonder for you to explore! It might help you understand a little more about how stars are formed and what happens when they burn up and collapse. It’s past Wonder #94 – What Is a Supernova? Here is a link that will take you right to it: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-supernova/. :-)

  17. Did you know that Googleplex is the highest number? What if there are more stars than that!? I really liked your wonder!
    Please sign back!

    P.S. How do you make the smiley face?

    • Hello again, Anthony! We’re glad you visited another Wonder today and learned something about the amount of stars that are out there! Thanks for your comment!

      To make the smiley faces, you put a “:” (colon), a “-” (small dash) and a “)” (ending parenthesis) together without any spaces. So, : + – + ) = :-) !

  18. Hi, Wonderopolis, long time no see. I think that you should make a wonder about black holes! If you can, that would be so awesome!!!!!!

    • It’s awesome to hear from you again, Anthony! We have another Wonder Friend, Rahul, who has been asking for a Wonder about black holes, too! We are trying to get that in the works, so both of you be on the lookout for a Black Hole Wonder in the near future! Thanks so much for leaving us a comment today! :-)

    • Thanks for visiting today, Logan! Isn’t it incredible how many stars are in the sky? It’s also incredible how many Wonders are possible with a great imagination! We LOVE having you Wonder with us! :)

  19. I won’t even bother trying to guess how many stars there are. Why? Because stars are constantly being born and dying, over and over and over and over… kind of like reincarnation! Plus, we can’t even guess not even ONCE, and get ANYWHERE CLOSE TO HOW CONSTANT STARS ARE BORN/DYING!!!!! Nor can we really know if any species is truly extinct, or if there really is an amount of any kind, or if anything on this so called exsistence is true! I get so tangled up of how to explain this, whatever THIS truly is! Good grief! I’m an 11 year old girl who will actually think of things as if IT or whatever IT is, by true reasonings! And are there really REASONINGS, or just EXCUSES to our PROBLEMS that we claim to be LOGICAL!!!!! Who, What, Why, When, How?! Are there really true things, or is there not true exsistence?! I see something from a nonexsistent point of view, if there is one. I just get so stern with this topic… If there is one?

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Libby! We are so impressed with your thought process regarding stars, the universe and existence overall! We think you did a SUPER job of thinking through all the possibilities– we can’t know if anything is certain, but we are having a great time WONDERing about it! Thank you for sharing your awesome comment, Libby! :)

    • YOWZA, that sure is a LOT of stars, Wonder Friend Kit Kat! They would be tough to count, that’s for certain! We Wonder if you enjoy stargazing? :)

  20. The video was educational and cool. I thought that the milky way galaxy would have had trillions not billions. This taught me so much about the universe and the stars. Thank you.

  21. This article was very useful!!!!!!!!!!! We liked learning this fantastic information,keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    – FANS M&C

    • That’s right, Jag Master! After Sextillion is Septillion, then Octillion… it keeps going up to Centillion. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :-)

  22. Oh, how big is the universe
    Then how big should be the creater of this universe
    Who controls the universe and how big he has to be
    Let’s think and reason it

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How many stars are there?
  • How many galaxies are there in our universe?
  • What is the most common type of star in the universe?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

There’s no better way to get an appreciation for the size of the universe than heading outside after sundown for a little stargazing. Instead of counting the stars, though, try finding some of the constellations.

You can print out a sky map to help you. If you want to practice indoors first, try exploring the sky using these interactive sky charts!

 

Still Wondering

Ready to do some stargazing? Check out Science NetLinks’ Star Search tool to discuss and ponder the vast number of stars in the night sky!

 

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