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BRIGHTEST STARS





Stars that appear brightest in the night sky do so for one or both of two reasons. Either they are intrinsically very luminous or quite close to the Sun or both. Without exception, every one of the 50 brightest stars in the night sky is intrinsically brighter than the Sun (although in the case of Alpha Centauri, the nearest bright star of all, the difference is not great). However, their distances vary enormously. Those in the list below which lie furthest away, compensate for their remoteness by their extreme brilliance. The most intrinsically luminous stars known are hypergiants such as Eta Carinae, Rho Cassiopeiae, and the Pistol Star.



The brightest stars ranked by apparent visual magnitude
star visual magnitude absolute magnitude distance (light-years)
Sun -26.72 4.83 -
Sirius (Alpha Canis Majoris) -1.44 1.46 8.60
Canopus (Alpha Carinae) -0.62 -5.53 312
Alpha Centauri -0.27 4.43 4.39
Arcturus (Alpha Bootis) -0.05 -0.30 36.7
Vega (Alpha Lyrae) 0.03 0.58 25.3
Capella (Alpha Aurigae) 0.08 -0.48 42
Rigel (Beta Orionis) 0.18 -6.69 773
Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris) 0.40 2.68 11.4
Achernar (Alpha Eridanus) 0.45 -2.77 144
Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) 0.45v -5.14 427
Hadar (Beta Centauri) 0.61v -5.43 525
Altair (Alpha Aquilae) 0.76 2.20 16
Acrux (Alpha Crucis) 0.77 -4.19 321
Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) 0.87v -0.64 65
Spica (Alpha Virginis) 0.98v -3.55 262
Antares (Alpha Scorpii) 1.06v -5.28 604
Pollux (Beta Geminorum) 1.16 1.08 34
Fomalhaut (Alpha Piscis Australis) 1.17 1.74 25
Deneb (Alpha Cygni) 1.25 -8.73 3,230
Mimosa (Beta Crucis) 1.25v -3.92 353
Regulus (Alpha Leonis) 1.36 -0.52 77
Adhara (Epsilon Canis Majoris) 1.50 -4.11 430
Castor (Alpha Geminorum) 1.58 0.58 52
Gacrux (Gamma Crucis) 1.59v -0.56 88
Shaula (Lambda Scorpii) 1.62v -5.05 703


Related entry

   • nearest stars


Related category

   • NOTABLE STARS