Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

200,868 subscribers and counting ...

Brightest Stars

Canopus seen from ISS
Tonight | Feb 04, 2016

Star of the week: Will you see Canopus?

Canopus is sky’s second-brightest star and easy to spot on February evenings, if …

Betelgeuse imaged in ultraviolet light by the Hubble Space Telescope and subsequently enhanced by NASA. The bright white spot is likely one of this star's poles. Image via NASA/ESA.
Science Wire | Jan 26, 2016

Star of the week: Betelgeuse will explode someday

Someday, the star Betelgeuse will run out of fuel, collapse under its own weight, and then rebound in a spectacular supernova explosion. Someday … but probably not soon.

Elnath represents the Bull's Northern Horn.
Tonight | Jan 20, 2016

Elnath, near galactic anticenter

Second-brightest star in Taurus the Bull and closest bright star to the galactic anticenter – the point in space that lies directly opposite of our Milky Way’s center.

Capella system, via Atlas of the Universe
Tonight | Jan 15, 2016

Capella is two golden stars

We see Capella as the brightest star in the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. It is really two stars, each with a golden color similar to our sun.

Blue-white Rigel via Clark Planetarium
Tonight | Jan 06, 2016

Rigel in Orion is blue-white

We couldn’t live as close to Rigel as we live to our sun, because Rigel is nearly twice as hot – and about 40,000 times brighter – than our local star.

Aldebaran-Sun_comparison_cropped
Tonight | Dec 29, 2015

Aldebaran is the Bull’s fiery eye

If Aldebaran were placed where the sun is now, its surface would extend almost to the orbit of Mercury.

Mirfak and Algol in Perseus
Tonight | Dec 22, 2015

Mirfak in Perseus

Mirfak isn’t as famous as its brother star in Perseus, called Algol. But Mirfak is easier to find and can help guide you to Algol.

Look south in late autumn / early winter
Science Wire | Dec 09, 2015

Menkar is the Whale’s alpha star

It’s not the most famous star in Cetus, or the brightest, although it carries the designation Alpha. But Menkar has its own claims to fame.

Star trails, one of which is Hamal, via H. Raab on Flickr.
Science Wire | Dec 03, 2015

Hamal is an ancient equinox star

The star Hamal, also known as Alpha Arietis, is the brightest star in Aries the Ram. Learn the role this star played in defining the term First Point in Aries.

Mira, from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer
Tonight | Nov 24, 2015

Mira the Wonderful

This star in the constellation Cetus varies in brightness over about 11 months.

Four stars in the Almach system
Tonight | Nov 18, 2015

Almach is a quadruple star system

Almach looks like a single star to the eye and like a colorful double star through a telescope. But today we know Almach as four stars.

Al Risha via STScI
Science Wire | Nov 06, 2015

Al Risha knots Fishes of Pisces

The star Al Risha in Pisces is not bright. But – at the tip of the graceful V in Pisces – it’s very noticeable.

X-ray view of Deneb Kaitos via NASA/CXC
Tonight | Oct 21, 2015

Deneb Kaitos, the Sea-Monster’s Tail

Look for Deneb Kaitos – brightest star in Cetus the Whale – highest in the sky around mid-evening.

Upside-down Cassiopeia on Mercator globe.
Tonight | Oct 14, 2015

Schedar lies at the Queen’s heart

For much of the Northern Hemisphere, on clear nights you can always see the brightest star in the constellation Cassiopeia.

Star Alpheratz, by Princess Andromeda's left eye
Tonight | Oct 09, 2015

Alpheratz is part of the Great Square

Come to know this star and be one step further along the path of finding the Andromeda galaxy.

Image via Tim Jones/McDonald Observatory.
Tonight | Sep 30, 2015

Gamma Cephei is a future North Star

Gamma Cephei (aka Errai) is a binary star system with at least one planet. It’ll someday be a North Star for Earth.

fomalhaut_disk_planet_300
Tonight | Sep 22, 2015

Fomalhaut had first visible exoplanet

Fomalhaut is sometimes called the Loneliest Star. Its planet Fomalhaut b was the first beyond our solar system to be visible to the human eye.

lights_tunnel_distance
Tonight | Sep 08, 2015

Delta Cephei is a famous variable star

Delta Cephei doubles in brightness every 5.36 days. This star and others like it have helped establish the known scale of our galaxy and universe.

Alpha Cephei, or Alderamin, via M. Zao.
Tonight | Sep 01, 2015

Alpha Cephei is a rapidly rotating star

Cepheus the King is not a very conspicuous constellation and has only one relatively bright star, Alderamin – aka Alpha Cephei. This star rotates rapidly!

South to overhead late summer to autumn
Tonight | Aug 25, 2015

61 Cygni is the Flying Star

61 Cygni isn’t bright. But it moves exceptionally rapidly against the background of more distant stars. Its motion reveals its nearness to Earth.

Hertzsprung-Russel_cropped
Tonight | Aug 19, 2015

Deneb is distant and very luminous

Deneb is one of the most distant stars you will see with your eye alone. That’s because it’s one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way galaxy.