Ever wanted to begin stargazing but didn’t know where to start? Well, you must have noticed that while some stars shine brightly, others are pretty dim in the night sky.
Owing to this irregularity in their brightness and visibility, it helps to identify what is the brightest star in the sky and focus on finding it. This will give you an idea about how and where to look while offering the motivation to keep going.
What Causes Stars To Shine Differently?
We often differentiate between planets and stars from their twinkling nature. Yes, the poem you grew up learning about the little star twinkling is true!
Stars produce their light and appear to twinkle owing to the number of layers of the Earth’s atmosphere they must cross to reach us. By the time a star’s light reaches our naked eyes, it would have gotten bent by several layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.
This makes them appear to be twinkling in the night sky. They might look like little lights going on and off at night. Considering how thick our Earth’s atmosphere is and how irregular the distribution is, we see different stars shining differently.
Their brightness is also a result of how far they are and how much distance their light has to cover to reach us. This is a list of bright stars that are easy to spot owing to both their brightness as well as their constellations. Spot the constellation and you have spotted the individual stars forming them.
The Simplest Stars To Spot That Anyone Can Easily See
As mentioned, these are all stars that are the brightest in their constellations. There are two ways to consider the brightness of stars. One is to check the apparent magnitude and consider only their brightness.
The other way is to measure the absolute magnitude and gauge the effect our atmosphere has on their light. This would include the actual magnitude of the light that reaches our eyes on Earth.
Well, let’s cut to the chase and discover the seven brightest stars we can spot. It also helps to know what is the brightest star in the sky and watch out for it!
Alpha Canis Majoris
This is the first star that anybody would guide you to, owing to its brightness. Also known as Sirius, this star is the brightest in the entire night sky! It is almost 24 times brighter than the Sun.
It belongs to the constellation Canis Major and resembles a dog. Another reason why it is so easy to spot is owing to its distinct shape. Even beginners can place the bright stars together to form the shape they are looking for.
If you are looking for Sirius for the first time, check during the summer season. This is because the skies will be clear and unlike monsoon, there won’t be any moisture in the air obscuring your vision.
It is easy to spot this star with a basic telescope or even with your naked eyes if you know where to look. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, look in the morning before sunrise to catch a glimpse of Sirius.
This is a lesser-known star that belongs to the constellation Böötes. It is often called Arcturus (more on what the name suggests later) and is bright orange. The color is one of the most distinct aspects of the star that makes it easy to find.
Why did this constellation receive this name? It is due to its proximity to the Big Dipper which is Ursa Major. It looks like a bear and ‘Arcturus’ means ‘Guardian of the Bear’ in Greek.
This star is the fourth brightest in our night sky, which makes it easy to spot. It is also convenient to find owing to its close positioning to Ursa Major, which is the easiest constellation to spot. Ursa Major is one of the very few constellations to truly resemble the shape it is supposed to form.
Scientists predict that once Alpha Bootis exhausts its helium supply, it will turn into a white dwarf. All its outer layers will fade away and only a tiny spot will remain for our future generations to find.
This is a star that is also called Rigel which is a massive blue-white supergiant. This means that the star is easy to spot owing to both its size and brightness.
How big is the star? Just to give you an idea, it is about 870 light years away from the Sun and over 47,000 times brighter. It has a companion double star which is also bluish-white and is of the sixth magnitude.
Now that you know how big this star is, let’s figure out where it is located. This star is a part of the constellation Orion, which is again an easy one to spot. It is very close to Sirius, and often, the two stars can be spotted together.
Rigel means the left leg of the giant in Greek. This must refer to its position in the Orion constellation and how it forms the left leg of Orion. You can begin by either spotting Sirius and making your way to Orion or vice-versa.
This star is also called Canopus and belongs to the Carina constellation. It might be a bit hard to spot this star if you are looking for a shape. This is because most people find a ship in the clouds while others just see a cluster of closely packed stars.
This is the second brightest star in the entire night sky and is simple to spot once you find Sirius. Simply find Sirius or Betelgeuse and begin a straight line downwards toward the horizon.
You will spot a red star if you are from the Southern Hemisphere owing to atmospheric refraction that takes place. Nevertheless, this star is not often studied owing to its absence in the Northern Hemisphere, where most of the research happens.
This star is very rare as it is an F giant. These are very rare and carry much more luminosity and radius than a dwarf star. Yes, even if they share the same surface temperature. Despite F giants being very few and hard to spot, this star can be easily found if you know where to look.
This star is also known by the name Capella which means she-goat in Latin. Needless to say, it looks like a goat in the sky and the star is the sixth brightest in the sky. You can spot it easily if you are in the Northern Hemisphere and possess a pair of sharp binoculars or a telescope.
Apart from being the sixth brightest star in the entire night sky, it is also the brightest star in the constellation Auriga which makes it quick and simple to spot. Simply find the constellations and then look for the brightest star.
This star is a spectroscopic binary that has two G giants. These giants orbit each other once every 104 days. Another interesting detail is that this star is around 42.2 light-years away from the Earth.
This star belongs to the Centaurus constellation and goes by the name Rigil Kentaurus. As the name suggests, this constellation resembles a centaur which is a mythical half-human and half-horse.
Since this constellation as well belongs in the Southern Hemisphere, it might be hard for you to spot based on where you are located. However, if you are located in the Southern Hemisphere, you will notice a circumpolar star.
This simply means that the star has proximity to the celestial poles and never sets below the horizon. If you are in the North, you can spot the star up to 29 degrees, and then it vanishes.
The tricky part about this star is that it is made up of three bright stars, namely Rigil Kentaurus, Proxima Centauri, and Toliman. Since the stars are located close to each other, you might see Toliman and Rigil Kentaurus together unless you use at least a basic telescope.
This star is also called Vega and belongs to the Lyra constellation. This constellation is easy to spot, as it looks like a harp and Vega is the brightest star in it. It is a fairly visible star that is the fifth brightest below the horizon.
It vanishes for around seven hours each day and reappears in complete brightness. If you can make it to the rooftop in time with your telescope, it is one of the most beautiful stars to spot!
It is a blue star that is found above the horizon. What makes it easy to spot is its color, as no other star in this constellation is blue. Ever heard of the Summer Triangle? It comprises Vega and two other stars called Deneb and Altair.
Did you know and can you believe that Vega was the very first star other than the Sun to be photographed? Both its image and spectrum were photographed. It is known to be the next most important star in the sky after our Sun!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Star Is The Brightest In The Night Sky?
Sirius is the brightest in the entire night sky and belongs to the well-known Canis Major constellation. It is nine light years away from the Earth and is the easiest star to spot in the sky.
How Do I Find Individual Stars In The Night?
We would suggest you look for popular constellations and then find the brightest stars within them. This is easier and more incentivizing rather than individually looking for specific stars in the night sky.
Can We See These Stars With Our Naked Eyes?
While it is possible to spot some stars with our naked eyes, we would recommend a good location and a strong telescope. If you are a beginner, these would greatly help along with some unique filters and pleasant weather.
Planning to find out what is the brightest star in the night sky and point it out to your friends? Now you know the secrets to finding the easy stars and where to look for them!
Stars are easy to differentiate and spot owing to their twinkling nature. They are varied in brightness and distance from the Earth, but once you get the hang of spotting them, there is no stopping you and your telescope!
Be aware that not all stars resemble the shapes they are supposed to form. If the weather is not agreeable, you might not be able to spot them due to the moisture. Be sure to hang in there and recite Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while you wait for them to pop out one by one!