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List of brightest stars

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This is a list of stars down to magnitude +2.50, as determined by their maximum, total, or combined visual magnitudes as viewed from Earth. Although several of the brightest stars are known binary or multiple star systems and are relatively close to Earth, they appear to the naked eye as single stars. The list below combines/adds the magnitudes of bright individual components. Most of the proper names in this list are those approved by the Working Group on Star Names.[1] Popular star names that have not been approved by the IAU may appear here with a short note.

List of brightest stars Intro articles: 3


The Sun is the brightest star as viewed from Earth. The apparent visual magnitudes of the brightest stars can also be compared to non-stellar objects in our Solar System. Here the maximum visible magnitudes above the second brightest star, Sirius (−1.46), are as follows. Excluding the Sun, the brightest objects are the Moon (−12.7), Venus (−4.89), Jupiter (−2.94), Mars (−2.91), Mercury (−2.45), and Saturn (−0.49).

Any exact order of the visual brightness of stars is not perfectly defined for four reasons:

  • Stellar brightness is 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. Since the invention of the optical telescope and the documenting of binary stars and multiple star systems, stellar brightness could be expressed as either individual (separate) or total (combined) magnitude. The table is ordered by combined magnitude of all naked eye components appearing as if it they were single stars. Such multiple star systems are indicated by parentheses showing the individual magnitudes of component stars bright enough to make a detectable contribution. For example, the double star Alpha Centauri has the total or combined magnitude of −0.27, while its two component stars have magnitudes of +0.01 and +1.33.[2]
  • New or more accurate photometry, standard filters, or adopting differing methods using standard stars can measure stellar magnitudes slightly differently. This may change the apparent order of lists of bright stars. The table shows measured V magnitudes, which use a specific filter that closely approximates human vision. However, other kinds of magnitude systems do exist based on different wavelengths, some well away from the distribution of the visible wavelengths of light, and these apparent magnitudes vary dramatically in the different systems.[3] For example, Betelgeuse has the K-band (infrared) apparent magnitude of −4.05.[4]
  • Some stars, like Betelgeuse and Antares, are variable stars, changing their magnitude over days, months or years. In the table, the range of variation is indicated with var. Single magnitude values quoted for variable stars come from a variety of sources. Magnitudes are expressed within the table are when the stars are either at maximum brightness, which is repeated for every cycle, e.g., the eclipsing binary Algol; or, if the variations are small, as a simple average magnitude. For all red variable stars, describing a single maximum brightness is often difficult because each cycle produces a different maximum brightness, which is thought to be caused by poorly understood pulsations in stellar evolution processes. Such quoted stellar brightness is sometimes based on the average maximum apparent magnitude [5] from estimated maximums over many observed light-curve cycles, sometimes spanning across centuries. Results often quoted in the literature are not necessarily straightforward and may differ in expressing an alternate value for a singular maximum brightness or as a range of values.
  • A select number of stars, thought to be uniformly fixed in brightness, are used as standard stars. These standard stars have carefully determined magnitudes that have been analysed over many years, and are often used to determine other stars' magnitudes or their stellar parameters using comparatively consistent scales.[6]

List of brightest stars Measurement articles: 17

Main table

The source of magnitudes cited in this list is the linked Wikipedia articles—this basic list is a catalog of what Wikipedia itself documents. References can be found in the individual articles.

Rank Visual magnitude (mV) Proper name[1] Bayer designation Distance (ly) Spectral class
part 1 part 2
1 0.000−26.74 Sun   0.000015813 G2 V
2 0.001−1.46 Sirius α CMa 0008.6 A0mA1 Va, DA2
3 0.003−0.74 Canopus α Car 0310 A9 II
4 0.004−0.27 (0.01 + 1.33) Rigil Kentaurus & Toliman α Cen 0004.4 G2 V, K1 V
5 0.005−0.05 Arcturus α Boo 0037 K0 III
6 0.03 (−0.02–0.07var) Vega α Lyr 0025 A0 Va
7 0.08 (0.03–0.16var) Capella α Aur 0043 K0 III, G1 III
8 0.13 (0.05–0.18var) Rigel β Ori 0860 B8 Ia
9 0.34 Procyon α CMi 0011 F5 IV-V
10 0.46 (0.40–0.46var) Achernar α Eri 0139 B6 Vep
11 0.50 (0.0–1.6var) Betelgeuse α Ori 0700 M1-M2 Ia-ab
12 0.61 Hadar β Cen 0390 B1 III
13 0.76 Altair α Aql 0017 A7 V
14 0.76 (1.33 + 1.73) Acrux α Cru 0320 B0.5 IV, B1 V
15 0.86 (0.75–0.95var) Aldebaran α Tau 0065 K5 III
16 0.96 (0.6–1.6var) Antares α Sco 0550 M1.5 Iab-Ib, B2.5 V
17 0.97 (0.97–1.04var) Spica α Vir 0250 B1 III-IV, B2 V
18 1.14 Pollux β Gem 0034 K0 III
19 1.16 Fomalhaut α PsA 0025 A3 V
20 1.25 (1.21–1.29var) Deneb α Cyg 2,615 A2 Ia
21 1.25 (1.23–1.31var) Mimosa β Cru 0280 B0.5 III, B2 V
22 1.39 Regulus α Leo 0079 B8 IVn
23 1.50 Adhara ε CMa 0430 B2 II
24 1.62 Shaula λ Sco 0570 B2 IV
25 1.62 (1.98 + 2.97) Castor α Gem 0052 A1 V, Am
26 1.64 Gacrux γ Cru 0088 M3.5 III
27 1.64 Bellatrix γ Ori 0240 B2 III
28 1.65 Elnath β Tau 0130 B7 III
29 1.69 Miaplacidus β Car 0110 A1 III
30 1.69 (1.64–1.74var) Alnilam ε Ori 2,000 B0 Ia
31 1.72 (1.81–1.87var + 4.27) Regor[a] γ1,2 Vel 0840 WC8, O7.5III
32 1.74 Alnair α Gru 0100 B6 V
33 1.77 Alioth ε UMa 0081 A1 III-IVp kB9
34 1.77 Alnitak ζ Ori A 0820 O9.5 Iab, B1 IV, B0 III
35 1.79 Dubhe α UMa 0120 K0 III, F0 V
36 1.80 Mirfak α Per 0590 F5 Ib
37 1.82 Wezen δ CMa 1,800 F8 Ia
38 1.84 Sargas θ Sco 0270 F0 II
39 1.85 Kaus Australis ε Sgr 0140 B9.5 III
40 1.86 Avior ε Car 0630 K3 III, B2 Vp
41 1.86 Alkaid η UMa 0100 B3 V
42 1.90 (1.89–1.94var) Menkalinan β Aur 0100 A1mIV+A1mIV
43 1.91 Atria α TrA 0420 K2 IIb-IIIa
44 1.92 Alhena γ Gem 0100 A1.5 IV+
45 1.94 Peacock α Pav 0180 B3 V
46 1.96 (1.99–2.39var + 5.57) Alsephina δ Vel 0080 A1 Va(n), F7.5 V
47 1.98 Mirzam β CMa 0500 B1 II-III
48 2.00 Alphard α Hya 0180 K3 II-III
49 1.98 (1.86–2.13var) Polaris α UMi 0430 F7 Ib
50 2.00 Hamal α Ari 0066 K1 IIIb
51 2.08 (2.37 + 3.64) Algieba γ1 Leo 0130 K0 III, G7 IIIb
52 2.02 Diphda β Cet 0096 K0 III
53 2.04 Mizar ζ UMa 0078 A2 Vp, A2 Vp, Am
54 2.05 Nunki σ Sgr 0220 B2.5 V
55 2.06 Menkent θ Cen 0061 K0 III
56 2.05 (2.01–2.10var) Mirach β And 0200 M0 III
57 2.06 Alpheratz α And 0097 B8 IVpMnHg, A3 V
58 2.07 Rasalhague α Oph 0047 A5 III
59 2.08 Kochab β UMi 0130 K4 III
60 2.09 Saiph κ Ori 0720 B0.5 Ia
61 2.11 Denebola β Leo 0036 A3 Va
62 2.12 (2.1–3.39var) Algol β Per 0093 B8 V, K0 IV, A7m
63 2.15 (2.0–2.3var) Tiaki β Gru 0170 M5 III
64 2.17 Muhlifain γ Cen 0130 A0 III, A0 III
65 2.21 Aspidiske ι Car 0690 A9 Ib
66 2.21 (2.14–2.30var) Suhail λ Vel 0570 K4 Ib
67 2.23 (2.21–2.32var) Alphecca α CrB 0075 A0 V, G5 V
68 2.23 (2.23–2.35var) Mintaka δ Ori 0900 O9.5 II, B1 V, B0 IV
69 2.23 Sadr γ Cyg 1,500 F8 Iab
70 2.23 Eltanin γ Dra 0150 K5 III
71 2.24 Schedar α Cas 0230 K0 IIIa
72 2.25 Naos ζ Pup 1,080 O4 If(n)p
73 2.26 Almach γ And 0350 K3 IIb, B9.5 V, B9.5 V, A0 V
74 2.28 (2.25–2.31var) Caph β Cas 0054 F2 III
75 2.29 Izar ε Boo 0202 K0 II-III, A2 V
76 2.30 (2.29–2.34var) α Lup 0550 B1.5 III
77 2.30 (2.29–2.31var) ε Cen 0380 B1III
78 2.31 (1.6–2.32var) Dschubba δ Sco 0400 B0.3 IV, B1-3 V
79 2.31 Larawag ε Sco 0065 K1 III
80 2.35 (2.30–2.41var) η Cen 0310 B1.5 Vne
81 2.37 Merak β UMa 0079 A1 IVps
82 2.38 Ankaa α Phe 0077 K0.5 IIIb
83 2.39 Girtab[a] κ Sco 0460 B1.5 III
84 2.40 (0.7–3.0var) Enif ε Peg 0670 K2 Ib
85 2.42 (2.31–2.74var) Scheat β Peg 0200 M2.5 II-IIIe
86 2.43 Sabik η Oph 0088 A1 IV, A1 IV
87 2.44 Phecda γ UMa 0084 A0 Ve
88 2.45 Aludra η CMa 2,000 B5 Ia
89 2.46 Markeb κ Vel 0540 B2 IV
90 2.47 (1.6–3.0var) Navi[a] γ Cas 0610 B0.5 IVe
91 2.48 Markab α Peg 0140 A0 IV
92 2.48 Aljanah ε Cyg 0072 K0 III-IV
93 2.50 Acrab β Sco 0404 B0.5 IV-V, B1.5 V, B2 V
Spatial distribution of these stars

The 92 stars listed above (thus omitting the sun) are in 38 modern constellations (of the 88 possible constellations), in turn covering 61.1% of our surrounds (the celestial sphere).

As drawn, diminutive Crux, which has three of these stars is the most densely populated as to these stars (this 3.26% of the list being 19.2 times more than the expected 0.17% that would result on a homogenous distribution of all bright stars and a randomised drawing of constellations, being its area). Virgo and Hydra have one such star yet more than 3% each of the night sky associated with them by professional astronomers, as these constellation's limits have been drawn by the IAU. Among the 50 constellations with none of these, Hercules is the largest, covering 2.97% of the galactic and extra-galactic surrounds.

List of brightest stars Main table articles: 98

See also


  1. ^ a b c Name does not appear in the IAU Catalog of Star Names


  1. ^ a b "Naming Stars". IAU Division C WG Star Names. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  2. ^ Hoffleit, Dorrit; Jaschek, Carlos (1991). "The Bright star catalogue". New Haven. Bibcode:1991bsc..book.....H.
  3. ^ Bessell, Michael S. (2005). "Standard Photometric Systems". Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics. 43 (1): 293–336. Bibcode:2005ARA&A..43..293B. doi:10.1146/annurev.astro.41.082801.100251.
  4. ^ Ducati, J. R. (2002). "VizieR Online Data Catalog: Catalogue of Stellar Photometry in Johnson's 11-color system". CDS/ADC Collection of Electronic Catalogues. 2237. Bibcode:2002yCat.2237....0D.
  5. ^ Illingworth, Valerie (April 1985). Macmillan Dictionary of Astronomy. Dictionary Series (Second ed.). London: Springer. p. 237. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-17803-2. ISBN 9781349178032. OCLC 965821821. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  6. ^ Landolt, Arlo U. (2009). "UBVRI Photometric Standard Stars Around the Celestial Equator: Updates and Additions". The Astronomical Journal. 137 (5): 4186–4269. arXiv:0904.0638. Bibcode:2009AJ....137.4186L. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/137/5/4186.

External links