10 Brightest Stars at Night

4th September 2019

What is the brightest star in the sky at night?

The brightest star in the sky at night is Sirius, also known as the Dog Star or more officially, Alpha Canis Majoris, due to its position in the Canis Major constellation. Sirius means ‘glowing’ in Greek, which is fitting as only the International Space Station, a few planets and the full moon can outshine this star at night. It has an apparent magnitude of -1.46 and is located - Right ascension: 6 hours 45 minutes 8.9 seconds, Declination: -16 degrees 42 minutes 58 seconds. Sirius is easily spotted in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter sky due to it being relatively close to Earth in comparison to other stars (8.6 light-years away) and because of its mass which is two times that of our Sun according to NASA. Sirius can also be spotted in the Southern Hemisphere as it is located on the celestial equator.

Sirius A and Sirius B.

Some people may be unaware that Sirius as a whole, is part of a Binary star system that contains two different stars, Sirius A and Sirius B. A binary star is a system of 2 stars that orbit a common barycentre and are gravitationally bound. Astronomers first discovered that Sirius A had a companion star in 1862 and it is now known that Sirius B is 10,000 times dimmer than Sirius A and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Sirius B is a white dwarf star which is the last stage of a visible star before it turns into a black dwarf star.

What makes bright stars, bright?

It’s pretty obvious that some stars are brighter than others in the night sky, but have you ever wondered why that is? There are several factors that contribute to the brightness of a star, including the size of the star and the distance from Earth. The brightest star as seen from Earth is our Sun, due to its distance from us. But what are the brightest stars in the sky at night?

The top 10 brightest stars in the night sky.

The night sky is full of bright stars, but what are the Top 10 Brightest Stars in the Night Sky?


1. Sirius A (Alpha Canis Majoris)

Located in the constellation Canis Major with an apparent magnitude of -1.5 and 8 light years away from Earth. Visible from the whole planet.

2. Canopus (Alpha Carinae)

Located in the constellation Carina with an apparent magnitude of -0.72, 309.8 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

3. Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri)

Located in the constellation Centaurus with an apparent magnitude of -0.29, 4.36 light-years away from Earth. Visible from the Southern Hemisphere.

4. Arcturus (Alpha Bootis)

Located in the constellation Bootes with an apparent magnitude of -0.04, 37 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

5. Vega (Alpha Lyrae)

Located in the Lyra constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.03, 25.5 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

6. Capella (Alpha Aurigae)

Located in the Auriga constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.08, 42 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

7. Rigel (Beta Orionis)

Located in the constellation Orion with an apparent magnitude of +0.18, 860 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Southern Hemisphere.

8. Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris)

Located in the Canis Minor constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.34, 11.45 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

9. Achernar (Alpha Eridani)

Located in the Eridanus constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.445, 114 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Southern Hemisphere.

10. Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis)

Located in the constellation Orion with an apparent magnitude of +0.42, 640 light years away from Earth. Visible from the Northern Hemisphere.



Naming a star in the night sky

Now that you know all about the Brightest Star, its companion star, other bright stars and binary star systems, why not name a star after someone special in your life? You can see all of the available star packages here.