List of brightest stars

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This article is about apparent magnitude. For absolute magnitude, see List of most luminous stars.

This is a list of the brightest naked eye stars to +2.50 magnitude, as determined by their maximum, total or combined apparent visual magnitudes as seen from Earth. Although several of the brightest stars are also known close binary or multiple star systems, they do appear to the naked eye as single stars. For example, the binary system Rigel Kentaurus has an apparent magnitude of –0.27, the brightest individual star of Alpha Centauri A has the apparent magnitude of –0.01 and Alpha Centauri B as +1.33. Hence, Alpha Centauri is the third brightest star in the night sky, while its brightest component Alpha Centauri A could be considered as the fourth brightest individual star and Alpha Centauri B as the twenty-first brightest individual star. The given list below ignores these individual components.

On a clear dark night, away from cities or artificial lighting, the average total number of naked-eye stars visible is around 6,500, but this number greatly depends on the selected magnitude limit or from the quoted star catalogue. Assuming 6.0 magnitude, the number of stars is about 4,500, but at 6.5 magnitude, the number increases to about 8,000.[note 1] The true number of observable stars increases almost exponentially as the magnitude increases.[1] Telescopically, most stars have been mapped, photographed and catalogued down to 11th magnitude, and recent star surveys are continuing to catalogue even fainter stars.

List[edit]

Below are listed the 93 brightest stars in order of their apparent visual magnitudes.

For comparison, the non-stellar objects in our Solar System with maximum visible magnitudes below +2.50 are the Moon (−12.7), Venus (−4.89), Jupiter (−2.94), Mars (−2.91), Mercury (−2.45), and Saturn (−0.49).

An exact order of the visual brightness of stars is not perfectly defined for the following reasons:

  • The brightnesses of all stars were traditionally based on the apparent visual magnitude as perceived by the human eye, from the brightest stars of 1st magnitude to the faintest at 6th magnitude. The invention of the telescope and the discovery of double or binary stars meant that star brightness could be individual (separate) or total (combined).
  • More and more accurate instrumental photometry measure stellar magnitudes, and this may change the order of lists of brighter stars.
  • Stellar magnitude is sometimes listed by the apparent brightness of stars as seen to the naked eye as if they were single stars, as it is here. Other examples include Norton's Star Atlas 18th Edition pg. 136.[2]
  • Other stellar magnitude lists report individual stars, differentiating those in binary stars or double star systems. Often, the differences apply to the ten or hundred brightest stars. For example, the total or combined magnitude of Capella is 0.08, while Capella A and B have magnitudes of 0.76 and 0.91.
  • A third kind includes the Sun as first in the magnitude listings, making Sirius 2nd, Canopus 3rd, etc. Some, like this list, place the Sun at zero, as it is not a distant star
  • There are sometimes small statistical variations in measured magnitudes; however, for most of the brightest stars, accurate photometry means brightness stays unchanged. These particular stars are sometimes called standard stars, which appear in the Catalogues of Fundamental Stars like the FK4, FK5 or FK6.
  • Some stars, like Betelgeuse and Antares, are variable stars, changing their magnitude over days, months or years. (In the table, these are indicated with var.)
  V Mag.
(m)[3]
Bayer designation Proper name Distance (ly) Spectral class SIMBAD
0 0.000−26.74   Sun 0.000 016 G2 V
1 0.001−1.46 α CMa Sirius 0008.6 A1 V , DA2 Sirius A
2 0.003−0.72 α Car Canopus 0310 F0 Ib Canopus
3 0.004−0.29 (−0.01 + 1.33) α Cen AB (α1,2 Cen) Rigil Kent, Toliman[4][note 2] 0004.4 G2 V, K1 V Alpha Centauri
4 0.005−0.04 var? α Boo Arcturus 0037 K0 III Arcturus
5 0.03 α Lyr Vega 0025 A0 Va Vega
6 0.08 α Aur Capella 0042 K0 III, G1 III Capella A
7 0.12 β Ori Rigel 0860 B8 Ia Rigel
8 0.38 α CMi Procyon 0011 F5 IV-V Procyon
9 0.46 α Eri Achernar 0140 B6 Vep Achernar
10 0.50 (0.2 - 1.2var) α Ori Betelgeuse 0640 [5] M2 Iab Betelgeuse
11 0.61 β Cen Agena, Hadar 0350 B1 III Hadar (Agena)
12 0.76 (1.33 + 1.73) α Cru Acrux 0320 B0.5 IV, B1 V Acrux
13 0.77 α Aql Altair 0017 A7 V Altair
14 0.85 (0.75 - 0.95var) α Tau Aldebaran 0065 K5 III Aldebaran
15 0.96 (0.6 - 1.6var) α Sco Antares 0600 M1.5 Iab, B3 V Antares
16 0.98 α Vir Spica 0260 B1 III-IV, B2 V Spica
17 1.14 β Gem Pollux 0034 K0 III Pollux
18 1.16 α PsA Fomalhaut 0025 A3 V Fomalhaut
19 1.25 α Cyg Deneb 2,600 A2 Ia Deneb
20 1.25 β Cru Mimosa, Becrux[note 2] 0350 B0.5 II, B2 V Mimosa
21 1.35 α Leo Regulus 0077 B7 V Regulus
22 1.50 ε CMa Adara, Adhara 0430 B2 Iab: Adara
23 1.62 (1.98 + 2.98) α Gem Castor 0052 Am, A1 V Castor
24 1.63 λ Sco Shaula 0700 B2 IV Shaula
25 1.63 γ Cru Gacrux 0088 M3.5 III Gacrux
26 1.64 γ Ori Bellatrix 0240 B2 III Bellatrix
27 1.65 β Tau El Nath 0130 B7 III El Nath
28 1.68 β Car Miaplacidus 0110 A1 III Miaplacidus
29 1.70 ε Ori Alnilam 2,000 B0 Ia Alnilam
30 1.74 α Gru Alnair 0100 B7 IV Al Na'ir
31 1.79 (2.05 + 4.21)? ζ Ori A Alnitak 0820 O9.7 Ib, O9 III, B0 II-IV Alnitak A
32 1.77 ε UMa Alioth 0081 A1 III-IVp kB9 Alioth
33 1.78 γ2 Vel Suhail, Regor 0840 WC8, O7.5e Gamma2 Velorum
34 1.79 α UMa Dubhe 0120 G9 III, A7.5 Dubhe
35 1.79 α Per Mirfak 0590 F5 Ib Mirfak
36 1.84 δ CMa Wezen 1,800 F8 Ia Wezen
37 1.85 ε Sgr Kaus Australis 0140 B9.5 III Kaus Australis
38 1.86 η UMa Benetnasch, Alkaid 0100 B3 V Benetnasch (Alkaid)
39 1.86 ε Car Avior 0630 K3 III, B2 Vp Avior
40 1.87 θ Sco Sargas 0270 F0 II Sargas
41 1.90 (1.89 - 1.94var) β Aur Menkalinan 0100 A1mIV+A1mIV Menkalinan
42 1.92 α TrA Atria 0420 K2 IIb-IIIa Atria
43 1.93 γ Gem Alhena 0100 A1.5 IV+ Alhena
44 1.94 α Pav Peacock 0180 B2 IV Peacock
45 1.96 δ Vel Koo She 0080 A1 Va(n), F2-F5 Delta Velorum
46 1.98 β CMa Mirzam 0500 B1 II-III Murzim
47 1.98 α Hya Alphard 0180 K3 II-III Alphard
48 2.00 α Ari Hamal 0066 K1 IIIb Hamal
49 2.01 (2.61 + 3.80)? γ1 Leo Algieba 0130 K0 III, G7 IIIb Algieba
50 2.02 var α UMi Polaris 0430 F8 Ib Polaris
51 2.04 β Cet Deneb Kaitos, Diphda 0096 K0 III Deneb Kaitos
52 2.05 κ Ori Saiph 0720 B0 Iab: Saiph
53 2.06 σ Sgr Nunki, Sadira 0220 B2.5 V Nunki
54 2.06 θ Cen Menkent 0061 K0 III Menkent
55 2.06 α And Alpheratz, Sirrah 0097 B8 IV Alpheratz
56 2.06 β And Mirach 0200 M0III Mirach
57 2.08 β UMi Kochab 0130 K4 III Kochab
58 2.10 α Oph Rasalhague 0047 A5 V Ras Alhague
59 2.12 (2.1 - 3.4var) β Per Algol 0093 B8 V Algol
60 2.13 β Gru - 0170 M5 III Beta Gruis
61 2.14 β Leo Denebola 0036 A3 Va Denebola
62 2.15 γ And Almach 0350 K3 IIb, B9.5 V, B9.5 V, A0 V Almach
63 2.17 γ Cen Muhlifain 0130 A1IV, (A0III/A0III) Muhlifain
64 2.21 ζ Pup Naos 1,100 O4 If(n)p Zeta Puppis
65 2.21 α CrB Alphecca, Gemma 0075 A0 V, G5 V Alphecca
66 2.23 λ Vel Suhail 0570 K4.5 Ib-II Lambda Velorum
67 2.23 γ Dra Eltanin 0150 K5 III Etamin
68 2.23 ζ1 UMa Mizar 0078 A2 Vp, A2 Vp, A1m, A5 V Mizar
69 2.23 δ Ori Mintaka 0900 B0 III, O9 V Mintaka
70 2.24 γ Cyg Sadr 1,500 F8 Ib Sadr
71 2.25 α Cas Schedar 0230 K0 IIIa Schedar
72 2.25 ι Car Aspidiske, Turais 0690 A9 Ib Aspidiske
73 2.27 β Cas Caph 0054 F2 III Caph
74 2.27 ε Cen - 0380 B1III Epsilon Centauri
75 2.28 α Lup Men, Kakkab 0550 B1.5 III Alpha Lupi
76 2.29 δ Sco Dschubba 0400 B0.3 IV Dschubba
77 2.29 ε Sco Wei 0065 K1 III Wei
78 2.32 η Cen Marfikent 0310 B1.5Vne Eta Centauri
79 2.35 β UMa Merak 0079 A1 IVps Merak
80 2.37 α Phe Ankaa, Nair al Zaurak 0077 K0.5 IIIb Ankaa
81 2.38 κ Sco Girtab 0460 B1.5 III Girtab
82 2.39 γ Cas Tsih, Navi 0610 B0.5 IVpe Gamma Cassiopeiae
83 2.39 ε Boo Izar 0202 K0 II-III, A2 V Izar
84 2.40 ε Peg Enif 0670 K2 Ib Enif
85 2.40 η CMa Aludra 2,000[6] B5 Ia Aludra
86 2.42 β Peg Scheat 0200 M2.5 II-IIIe Scheat
87 2.43 γ UMa Phecda 0084 A0Ve Phecda
88 2.43 η Oph Sabik 0049 A1 V, A3 V Sabik
89 2.44 α Cep Alderamin 0049 A8 Vn Alderamin
90 2.46 κ Vel Markeb 0540 B2 IV Kappa Velorum
91 2.49 α Peg Markab 0140 B9 III Markab
92 2.50 ε Cyg Gienah 0072 K0 III-IV Gienah
93 2.50 β Sco Acrab 0404 B1V, B2V Acrab

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Early quotes on the number of naked-eye stars are from the Yale Bright Star Catalogue Version 5 (1951), which gives 5,009 stars above 6.0 magnitude and 9,090 mag. stars above 6.5 magnitude. The average between 6.0 and 6.5 is around 6,500 stars. Another earlier reference source is the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Star Catalog (SAO), which lists 4,489 stars to 6.0 mag. and 7,971 to 6.5 mag, and this averages to about 6,200 stars. Most of the later star catalogues give better results with improved and more accurate photoelectric photometry to the stated magnitudes. For example, the Hipparcos Star Catalogue (2007) or HIP2 has 4,559 above 6.0 mag. and 7,982 to 6.5 magnitude. Tycho-2 Star Catalogue has 4,566 stars to 6.0 mag. and 8,003 stars to 6.5 mag. Quoted values based on all the available data above suggests 6500±1000 naked-eye stars are visible across the entire sky, and approximately half this number exists if considered to be above the horizon.
  2. ^ a b Not in common use

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Haworth, Observational Astronomy, "How Many Stars You Can Observe"
  2. ^ Dolan, Chris. "The Brightest Stars, as Seen from the Earth". Reference (2010). 
  3. ^ Hoffleit, Dorrit; Jaschek, Carlos (1991). "The Bright star catalogue". New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Observatory, 5th rev.ed. Bibcode:1991bsc..book.....H. 
  4. ^ Kunitzsch P., & Smart, T., A Dictionary of Modern star Names: A Short Guide to 254 Star Names and Their Derivations, Cambridge, Sky Pub. Corp., 2006, p. 27
  5. ^ Graham M. Harper, Alexander Brown, and Edward F. Guinan, (April 2008). "A New VLA-Hipparcos Distance to Betelgeuse and its Implications" (PDF). The Astronomical Journal (IOP Publishing) 135 (4,): pp. 1430–1440. Bibcode:2008AJ....135.1430H. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/135/4/1430. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  6. ^ van Leeuwen, F. (November 2007). "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction". Astronomy and Astrophysics 474 (2): 653–664. arXiv:0708.1752. Bibcode:2007A&A...474..653V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357. 

External links[edit]