Historical brightest stars
The Solar System and all of the visible stars are in different orbits about the core of the Milky Way galaxy. Thus, their relative positions change over time, and for the nearer stars this movement can be measured. As a star moves toward or away from us, its apparent brightness changes. Sirius is currently the brightest star in Earth's night sky, but it has not always been so. Canopus has persistently been the brightest star over the ages; other stars appear brighter only during relatively temporary periods, during which they are passing our solar system at a much closer distance than Canopus. The table below lists the brightest star in Earth's night sky at each period within the last or next 5 million years.
|Epsilon Canis Majoris ||...||-4,460,000||-4,700,000||-3.99||34||430||1.50|
|Beta Canis Majoris ||-4,460,000||-3,700,000||-4,420,000||-3.65||37||500||1.99|
|Canopus (first time)||-3,700,000||-1,370,000||-3,110,000||-1.86||177||310||-0.72|
|Canopus (second time)||-950,000||-420,000||-950,000||-1.09||252||310||-0.72|
|Canopus (third time)||-160,000||-90,000||-160,000||-0.70||302||310||-0.72|
|Canopus (fourth time)||+480,000||+990,000||+480,000||-0.40||346||310||-0.72|
|NR Canis Majoris||+2,670,000||+3,050,000||+2,870,000||-0.88||14||280||5.6|
- This star is now a luminous giant. It may have been on the main sequence, approx. 1 mag fainter, during the time span given.
- Peak magnitude is not the brightest for this star
- This peak occurs when another star is brightest
- Tomkin, Jocelyn (April 1998). "Once and Future Celestial Kings". Sky and Telescope 95 (4): 59–63. Bibcode:1998S&T....95d..59T. - based on computations from HIPPARCOS data. (The calculations exclude stars whose distance or proper motion is uncertain.)
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