Current estimates for the number of stars in the universe are about 10^22. However, that number has changed several times as new observations have come forth. How has the estimate of the number of stars in the universe changed over time? What was the estimate after Hubble's findings? What was the estimate in the 70s, 90s, etc., and what new discoveries forced those estimates to change?

  • $\begingroup$ This Wikipedia page provides some pre-Hubble numbers: the 1884 catalogue contained ~4000 stars visible to the naked eye, while the current BSC has about 9000. These provide reasonable limits on what was possible to count prior to the invention of the telescope. Going further back, the list by Hipparchus had about 1000 stars? $\endgroup$ – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 30 '19 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I'm also very interested in how telescope/probe based estimates have changed over time. $\endgroup$ – user27343 May 30 '19 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ I think two early big leaps would have been Hubble’s 1924 confirmation that “nebulae” were actually galaxies (immediately increasingly the estimated number of stars by an order of 2-3), and the advent of radio astronomy (although it took decades to go from “radio source” to “distant galaxy with AGN”). $\endgroup$ – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 31 '19 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ I think you’ve asked a great question, with obvious relevance to this site, but if you don’t get a good answer, it would be worth posting it on our other SE site History of Science and Mathematics. :-) $\endgroup$ – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 31 '19 at 0:17

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