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Scientifically Accurate ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ Is Still Charming

Stars aren’t diamonds at all—they’re giant balls of gas

smithsonian.com

The rhyming verse “Twinkle, twinkle, little star / How I wonder what you are” made more sense as a question when it was first penned by poet Jane Taylor in 1806 than it does today. Now, in the age of high-powered space telescopes, adaptive optics and cosmological modeling, we have a fairly good idea of what stars are.

In the video above, Astronomically Correct Twinkle Twinkle, a trio of science aficionados took it upon themselves to update the classic nursery rhyme for the post-Space Race era.

Written by Minute Physics' Henry Reich and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal's Zach Weinersmith and animated by Chris Jones, the song keeps the rhyme and rhythm of the childhood favorite but updates it with modern science and a healthy dose of charm.

There's a heaping dose of rather complicated science bundled up in the song's lyrics, however. So if you do plan to teach this one to the kids, make sure you set some extra time aside to talk about the Doppler effect, stellar decay and the maybe-not-kid-friendly concept of the event horizon.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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