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Brightest Stars

Procyon
Tonight | Feb 23, 2015

Star of the week: Procyon the Little Dog Star

The Dog Star, Sirius, is easy to spot because it’s the sky’s brightest star. Procyon – the other Dog Star – is always near its brighter brother on the sky’s dome.

Castor system via Jeremy Perez
Tonight | Feb 16, 2015

Castor six stars in one

Two stars noticeable for being bright and close together might be Castor and Pollux of the Gemini Twins constellation.

Canopus seen from ISS
Tonight | Feb 06, 2015

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.
Tonight | Jan 29, 2015

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, 2015

Elnath is close to the galactic anticenter

Elnath is the second-brightest star in Taurus the Bull. It’s the closest bright star to the galactic anticenter – the point in space that lies directly opposite of the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

Capella system, via Atlas of the Universe
Tonight | Jan 13, 2015

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, 2015

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, 2014

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, 2014

Mirfak is Perseus’ brightest star

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
Tonight | Dec 08, 2014

Menkar is the Whale’s alpha star

Okay, it’s not the most famous star in Cetus. It’s not even 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.
Tonight | Dec 02, 2014

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 27, 2014

Mira the Wonderful

This star in the constellation Cetus varies in brightness like clockwork over 11 months. That’s why, for centuries, stargazers have called it Mira the Wonderful.

Four stars in the Almach system
Tonight | Nov 18, 2014

Star of the week: 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.

Achernar is flattened because it rotates rapidly
Tonight | Nov 11, 2014

Achernar is the End of the River

Achernar – also known as Alpha Eridani – is the 9th brightest star in Earth’s sky and the flattest star known.

Al Risha via STScI
Nov 05, 2014

Al Risha knots two Fishes of Pisces together

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

Medusa_by_Caravaggio-cp
Tonight | Oct 31, 2014

Algol is the Demon Star

On (or around) Halloween, look for Algol – a star named for a demon!

Image via thebadastronomer on Flickr
Tonight | Oct 27, 2014

Mirach is guide star to three galaxies

The orange-colored star Mirach in the constellation Andromeda acts as your guide star to three different galaxies: M31 (Andromeda galaxy), M33 (Triangulum galaxy), and NGC 404.

X-ray view of Deneb Kaitos via NASA/CXC
Tonight | Oct 24, 2014

Deneb Kaitos is the Sea-Monster’s Tail

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

Upside-down Cassiopeia on Mercator globe.
Tonight | Oct 14, 2014

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.

Image via Tim Jones/McDonald Observatory.
Tonight | Sep 30, 2014

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 24, 2014

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.