This riddle is actually a short story, and a pretty hard one to crack. I've read it in a book literally more than 8 years ago, but I still remember the important parts, as well as the solution. The story goes like this:

Mary and Max were sitting on a hillside. It was a warm summer night and the grasshoppers were chirping. Slight breeze made it all the more enjoyable to be outside. Mary and Max were talking and laughing, carelessly gazing at the beautiful dark sky filled with thousands of stars.

"What star is the closest to us, Max?" asked Mary giving him half an apple.

"Well, that's easy. The Sun," Max responded quickly and possibly a bit pretentiously.

"Nope," said Mary complacently.

Max scratched his head and started thinking harder. He laid on the ground and focused all his attention to the sky above him.

"Well... You do know that the Moon is not a star, right?" asked Max with a grin on his face.

"Of course not," answered Mary, as if she had anticipated that question.

They kept laying in silence, enjoying the beautiful summer sky.

So, which star was actually closest to them?

Note: I read this story so long ago, and keep in mind that this version here is paraphrased from my memories which are vague. Even though my English is pretty decent, the same cannot be said for my prosaic style and talent. I did spend half an hour writing this so as to best resemble the actual story written by people who write way better than me.

I truly hope that the way I wrote it will not ruin this beautiful riddle in any way.

Note#2 (slight hint): Only some people can solve this, since there is a particular thing you need to know in order to solve it in addition to being quite good at puzzles as well. I'm only saying this because I couldn't solve it for some reasons that you'll understand once the solution is unveiled.

Be patient, for this one I do know the solution :)

  • $\begingroup$ Because "there is a particular thing you need to know in order to solve it," would either the trivia tag or the knowledge tag be appropriate? $\endgroup$ – Will Aug 19 '16 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Will I guess neither of them are good for this cause this thing is kinda known, but not to everyone. I had no idea about it. But on the other hand it does not require any above-average knowledge in science or anything. Nor does it rely on what trivia tag covers, like you needed to know something from popular culture in order to solve it. I could give an example, but that'd make it substantially easier so I'll hold of on that. $\endgroup$ – Vucko Aug 19 '16 at 11:14

It is the star

made of the seeds around the apple core. Apple Star


The answer refers to this line of the story :
"What star is the closest to us, Max?", asked Mary giving him half an apple.

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    $\begingroup$ I thought it'd be harder. Good job, nice spot, this is the solution. You even provided an image for people who did not know about this to see :) When I came home, I had to slice an apple to check this for myself! :) $\endgroup$ – Vucko Aug 19 '16 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ My grandfather has an orchard, I've known about this star since I was a little kid :). I could easily imagine that it's uncommon knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Sconibulus Aug 19 '16 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ Also only known to people that cut apples along the x-y-plane of the apple. I do slices along the z axis, so although I've seen thousands of apple kernel houses, I've never seen them as a star. TIL. Thank you! :) $\endgroup$ – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 19 '16 at 12:56

Astrocytes (star-cells in Greek) are in everybody's brain.

No star can get any closer than that.


This is quite a wild guess.

They are

enjoying a summer holiday on the Balkans,

so, the closest star to them is

the city of Mostar.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, man, my father was born in Mostar, and it is a beautiful city. But unfortunately this is not the solution. Though I couldn't resist upvoting it because I visited Mostar less than 2 weeks ago :) $\endgroup$ – Vucko Aug 19 '16 at 11:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Vucko that is what you get when you tag lateral-thinking... upvoted as well. $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Aug 19 '16 at 15:02

I guess the answer is

The star inside an apple.
If you cut an apple horizontally, there will be a star-shaped arrangement of five seeds inside it. I guess that's the star she indicates.

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    $\begingroup$ this is basically the same as an already existing answer. $\endgroup$ – elias Aug 19 '16 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ @elias This one. $\endgroup$ – EKons Aug 19 '16 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ This was posted only a few minutes after the other answer; I would guess it was an independent solution rather than deliberate copying. The downvotes it's received seem a little harsh. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Aug 19 '16 at 12:23

They are

in Hollywood (perhaps on the hill where the "HOLLYWOOD" sign is),

and so the closest star is

Johnny Depp.  Or maybe Leonardo DiCaprio; I don't know who lives where.

  • $\begingroup$ Haha that seems legit $\endgroup$ – Vucko Aug 20 '16 at 23:22

I think that

the hillside they are sitting on is next to the sea

and so the closest star to them is

a starfish!

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Nope, nothing in the story suggests that the hillside is near the sea. And the answer is in the story. I think that helps a bit. $\endgroup$ – Vucko Aug 19 '16 at 11:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Vucko Nothing suggested the contrary either ;) $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Aug 19 '16 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ I know, but if that's the case, you can presume anything that isn't directly contradicted in the story. Think harder, and re-read the story a couple of times :) $\endgroup$ – Vucko Aug 19 '16 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Vucko you can presume anything that isn't directly contradicted in the story Yes, this is the use of the lateral-thinking tag :) $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Aug 19 '16 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Vucko Oh, of course you can put it. Your riddle is pretty good and well formatted after all, I was just saying this because this tag allows you to take wild guesses like mine! On a side note, I knew it was something with the apple though, after reading a second time, ha :) $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Aug 19 '16 at 12:02

I suppose they are in love. So the closet star to them are

each other - costar of their life

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    $\begingroup$ Romantic thinking, but it's not the solution :) I said it'd be hard :) $\endgroup$ – Vucko Aug 19 '16 at 11:25

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