Q: Once, long ago, I saw in Astronomy magazine an interesting article titled “Why is the Night Sky Black?” It was interesting and if I remember correctly it posited that an infinite universe would have a bright sky since at any point there would be a star sooner or later at some distance. I have often been intrigued with the idea and wondered if it could be interesting from a creationary point of view.

A: This normally is named “Olbers’ Paradox” after Heinrich Wilhelm Matthäus Olbers (1758–1840).  Olbers wrote about this as early as 1823, but there were others prior to him who discussed the issue as well.  There are four assumptions required for Olbers’ Paradox.  They are:

1. Stars have some average size and brightness.

2. Stars are uniformly distributed throughout the universe.

3. The universe is eternal.

4. The universe is infinite.

We can work through these assumptions.  The apparent brightness of a star diminishes with the inverse square of the distance.  This is due to the fact that the angular size of a star (how much of the sky that appears to be taken up by a star) decreases with the inverse square of the distance.  If stars are uniformly distributed throughout the universe, then with increasing distance the number of stars increases with the square of the distance.  These two effects cancel, so that wherever we look, our view is blocked by an increasing amount of stellar surfaces with ever increasing distance….

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