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The 10 Brightest Stars in the Night Sky

The Stars in the Sky

Whenever you are out camping or are enjoying a late night on a rooftop, you may be just as captivated by the stars as anyone else. However, you may also notice that a few of them shine brighter than others. Yes, this sounds like a song, and it’s supposed to! Stars are magical, the way they shine bright in the sky is enough to captivate all our attention.

For some, there’s nothing quite like lying down and watching the brightest stars shine – it gives them (and us too!) the feeling that we are small, insignificant in the world. It gives us perspective on just how small we are after all. There’s nothing quite like it! So, let’s talk about the ten brightest stars in the night sky.

First, however, let’s talk about binary stars. These kinds of stars have two stars, so technically, they should be considered star systems. They have a gravity center and they also orbit a barycenter. Stars and their systems have been researched for centuries. In fact, Sirius A was first found in 1862, but at the time, Sirius B wasn’t known of yet. We now know that Sirius A is 10 000 times brighter than its companion star!

Stars are brighter than others because of its size, its distance from the Earth. Now, you may wonder, but isn’t the sun the brightest star? Yes! However, this article focuses on the ten brightest stars in the night sky instead.

1.   Sirius A (Alpha Canis Majoris)

Those of you who may be big Harry Potter fans may be wondering whether there is a link between the name of the sky’s biggest star and werewolves. Well, yes! Sirius is the biggest star in the sky, and it is commonly known as the Dog Star.

The word “sirius”, is Greek, stands for ‘glowing’. This is clearly an appropriate same for the star which is one of the brightest things in the world. In fact, the only things that can outshine it are, for example, the International Space Station and some of the planets in our solar system. It can be seen from anywhere on the planet and it is eight light years away from the Earth.

2.   Canopus 

A part of Carina, this star’s apparent magnitude is −0.74, anit is around 310 light-years away from the sun. It is a giant star as well, but it is seen as white. It is over ten thousand times as luminous as the sun and is eight times as big.

3.   Rigial Kentaurus

The Rigial Kentauraus is part of the Centauri system and is located just over four light-years away from Earth. It can only be seen from the Southern Hemisphere, and it is this bright because of its proximity to the system. It is the sun’s closest neighbor as well.

4.   Arcturus 

This star is in the Bootes constellation and has an apparent magnitude of -0.04. This star is much further away, namely 37 light-years away from Earth! It can only be seen from the Northern Hemisphere.

5.   Vega

This star is in the Lyra constellation, and it is the constellation’s brightest star. It is around 25.5 light years away from the Earth. We can only see it from the Northern Hemisphere. It used to be the North Pole star around 12, 000 B.C.E., and it’s expected to regain this status around the year of 13,727. Sadly, most of us won’t get to see that happening!

6.   Capella

The Capella star is in the Auriga constellation. It is over 42 light-years away from the Earth, but it can still be seen from the Northern Hemisphere. It comprises two giant stars which orbit each other every 100-or-so days.

7.   Rigel

The seventh brightest star in the sky is Rigel, which is located in the Orion constellation (usually called Orion). It is one of the stars which is further away from the Earth: over 860 light-years away! You can only see it from the Southern Hemisphere. It is a blue supergiant star and it is over 47,000 times brighter than the sun! However, it’s also a variable star, meaning that its brightness varies.

8.   Procyon 

This star is located in the Canis Minor constellation. It is located around eleven light-years away from Earth, and you can only see it from the Northern Hemisphere. So, not only is it one of the brightest stars in the sky, but it is also one of the closest ones to Earth. This star is also a binary star and it is usually yellowish-white, unlike other kinds of stars (such as the blue Rigel).

9.   Achernar

The ninth brightest star in the night sky is Achernar, which is located in the Eridanus constellation. Also quite far from the Earth, it is around 114 light-years away, and it can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. It is also part of a binary system and it is a blue main-sequence star. It rotates at over 250 km per second and it is therefore very flat.

10.   Sirius A (Alpha Canis Majoris)

Finally, the tenth brightest star in the sky is Betelgeuse, which is in the Orion constellation. It is visible from the Northern Hemisphere, and it is less than 10 million years old. It is said to be evolving very rapidly, and it is expected to end (or explode, in star terms) in the next 100,000 years. It is also called a red, pulsating supergiant as it has near-infrared wavelengths.

Shooting star over dessert

Although we take stars for granted, we should truly give them more attention. They are an incredibly interesting aspect of our world, as after all, they are matter-free pockets of hydrogen and helium floating and lighting up all around our planet. They are captivating to look at, and they are also quite romantic! What’s better than to watch the sky on a slightly dimmed summer night where you can see most of the stars in your hemisphere? And what if we told you that you can give a star as a gift?

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