How do astronomers count stars in a 3D sky?

Anyone interested in astronomy realizes that the stars are scattered through three-dimensional space and not, as the ancients believed, bright points attached to a celestial sphere. The night sky it has often appeared to many as a kind of roof or canopy.

Stars are generally distributed randomly in space. Their various patterns and configurations would look quite different if we could see them from elsewhere in our galaxy. Constellations as such, they are nothing more than random arrangements space. But from now on Earthwe can also get the same effect by looking out over a town or village at night and noting how the street lights and lamps in the houses can also form a ‘constellation’.

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