Meet Alpha Cephei, a rapidly rotating star

While not one of the most conspicuous stars in the night sky, Alderamin – aka Alpha Cephei – is easy to spot, and is interesting for its rapid rotation on its axis.

Meet Delta Cephei, a famous variable star

Delta Cephei doubles in brightness on a precise schedule, every 5.36 days. Its brightness changes are tied to its absolute brightness. Learn how this star helped establish the known distance scale of our galaxy and universe.

A darkened skyline, with smoke from a chimney blowing sideways and a single star, Fomalhaut, above.

Fomalhaut: The loneliest star

It’s also sometimes called the autumn star for us in the Northern Hemisphere. In its large dark patch of sky, only Fomalhaut shines brightly. Here’s how to see it.

Altair: Bright star of the Eagle

Altair is only 16.8 light-years from Earth, making it one of our closest stellar neighbors. At least 2 features of the star make it distinctive. For one thing, Altair needs only 10 hours to spin once on its axis, in contrast to roughly a month for our sun.

61 Cygni is the Flying Star

Although it’s not bright, 61 Cygni moves exceptionally rapidly against the background of more distant stars. Its motion reveals its nearness to Earth.

Albireo, beloved double star

Albireo is known best for the striking color contrast between its two stars – the brighter gold star and the dimmer blue star.

Eltanin and Rastaban, the Dragon’s Eyes

These 2 famous stars shine down from the northern sky. Eltanin and Rastaban represent the fiery Eyes of the constellation Draco the Dragon.

Antares is the Heart of the Scorpion

Bright red Antares is easy to spot now. It’s the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius and represents the Scorpion’s Heart.

Zubeneschamali: A green star?

Although some scientists claim stars can’t look green, many stargazers will swear that Zubeneschamali proves otherwise.

Zubenelgenubi is Libra’s alpha star

Now it’s Libra’s alpha star. But Zubenelgenubi is an Arabic name indicating that this star was once perceived as the Southern Claw of Scorpius the Scorpion.

Alphecca, the jewel in the Northern Crown

Alphecca. Gemma. Alpha Coronae Borealis or simply Alpha Cor Bor. They’re all names for one star – the brightest star in the constellation Northern Crown.

Polaris is the North Star

Many people think Polaris is the sky’s brightest star. In fact, Polaris ranks only 50th in brightness. Still, Polaris is famous because the entire northern sky wheels around it.

Thuban is a former Pole Star

Thuban was the Pole Star some 5,000 years ago, when the Egyptians were building the pyramids.

Photo of blue-white star Spica.

Spica is a whirling double star

Spica’s 2 stars orbit a common center of gravity in only 4 days. Their mutual gravity distorts each star into an egg shape, with the pointed ends facing each other.

Observatory dome in foreground, Milky Way in background, and Alpha Centauri's position marked.

Alpha Centauri, star system closest to our sun

We see this nearly star system as a single star in our sky, but it’s really 3 stars. Of the 3, Proxima is closer to our sun than any other known star.

Alpha and Beta Centauri, pointing to Crux.

Beta Centauri is a Southern Pointer Star

Beta Centauri – aka Hadar – joins Alpha Centauri in pointing to the Southern Cross. Like Alpha, Beta Centauri is also 3 stars, but 2 of Beta’s stars will someday become nearby supernovae.

Cor Caroli, named for the heart of a king

Cor Caroli is a binary star and the brightest star in the northern constellation Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs. Its name means Heart of Charles.

Acrux, brightest star in Southern Cross

You have to go far south on Earth’s globe to see the Southern Cross. Bluish Acrux, aka Alpha Crucis, is its brightest star.

Alphard is the Snake’s Heart

Alphard – Heart of the Snake in constellation Hydra – is ascending in the east in the evening now, a sign of spring coming.

Canopus: Sky’s 2nd-brightest star

Canopus is the 2nd-brightest star in the sky, and it’s easy to spot on February evenings, if …