The brightest stars range from the Sun's brilliance to +2.50 magnitude, determined by their maximum, total or combined apparent visual magnitudes as seen from Earth. Several of the brightest stars are binary or multiple star systems, that appear to the naked eye as single stars. The given list below combines/adds the magnitudes of bright individual components. Proper names given in the list below are those approved by the Working Group on Star Names


Apparent visual magnitudes of the brightest star can also be compared to non-stellar objects in the Solar System. Here the maximum visible magnitudes above the brightest star, Sirius (−1.46), are as follows. Excluding the Sun, the brightest objects are the Moon (−12.7), Venus (−4.89), Jupiter (−2.94), Mars (−2.91), Mercury (−2.45), and Saturn (−0.49).

Any exact order of the visual brightness of stars is not perfectly defined for four reasons:

  • Stellar brightness is traditionally based on the apparent visual magnitude as perceived by the human eye, from the brightest stars of 1st magnitude to the faintest at 6th magnitude. Since the optical telescope's invention, and the known existence of double or binary stars, has meant that stellar brightness could be expressed as either individual (separate) or total (combined) magnitude. The table is ordered by combined magnitude of all naked eye components appearing as if it they were single stars. Such stars are included in parentheses, where any individual component magnitudes are bright enough to make a detectable contribution. e.g. the double star Alpha Centauri has the total or combined magnitude of −0.27, while its two component stars have magnitudes of +0.01 and +1.33.[1]
  • New or more accurate photometry, standard filters, or adopting differing methods using standard stars can measure stellar magnitudes slightly differently. This may change the apparent order of lists of bright stars. The table shows measured V magnitudes, which use a specific filter that closely approximates human vision. However, other kinds of magnitude systems do exist based on different wavelengths, some well away from the distribution of the visible wavelengths of light, and these apparent magnitudes vary dramatically in the different systems.[2] For example, Betelgeuse has the K-band (infra-red) apparent magnitude of −4.05.[3]
  • Some stars, like Betelgeuse and Antares, are variable stars, changing their magnitude over days, months or years. In the table, the range of variation is indicated with var. Single magnitude values quoted for variable stars come from a variety of sources. Magnitudes are expressed within the table are when the stars are either at maximum brightness, which is repeated for every cycle, e.g., the eclipsing binary Algol; or, if the variations are small, as a simple average magnitude. For all red variable stars, describing a single maximum brightness is often difficult because each cycle produces a different maximum brightness, which is thought to be caused by poorly understood pulsations in stellar evolution processes. Such quoted stellar brightness is sometimes based on the average maximum apparent magnitude [4] from estimated maximums over many observed light-curve cycles, sometimes spanning across centuries. Results often quoted in the literature are not necessarily straight forward and may differ in expressing an alternate value for a singular maximum brightness or as a range of values.
  • A select number of stars, thought to be uniformly fixed in brightness, are used as standard stars. These standard stars have carefully determined magnitudes that have been analysed over many years, and are often used to determine other star's magnitudes or their stellar parameters using comparatively consistent scales.[5]

Table of brightest starsEdit

The source of magnitudes cited in this list is the linked Wikipedia articles—this basic list is simply a catalog of what Wikipedia itself documents. References can be found in the individual articles.

V Mag.
Proper name Bayer designation Distance (ly) Spectral class
0.000−26.74 Sun   0.000015813 G2 V
0.001−1.46 Sirius α CMa 0008.6 A1 V, DA2
0.003−0.74 Canopus α Car 0310 A9 II
0.004−0.27 (0.01 + 1.33) Alpha Centauri (Rigil Kentaurus) α Cen 0004.4 G2 V, K1 V
0.005−0.05 Arcturus α Boo 0037 K0 III
0.03 (−0.02 - 0.07var) Vega α Lyr 0025 A0 Va
0.08 (0.03 - 0.16var) Capella α Aur 0042 K0 III, G1 III
0.13 (0.05 - 0.18var) Rigel β Ori 0860 B8 Ia
0.34 Procyon α CMi 0011 F5 IV-V
0.46 (0.40 - 0.46var) Achernar α Eri 0140 B6 Vep
0.50 (0.2 - 1.2var) Betelgeuse α Ori 0640[6] M2 Iab
0.61 Hadar β Cen 0350 B1 III
0.76 Altair α Aql 0017 A7 V
0.76 (1.33 + 1.73) Acrux α Cru 0320 B0.5 IV, B1 V
0.86 (0.75 - 0.95var) Aldebaran α Tau 0065 K5 III
0.96 (0.6 - 1.6var) Antares α Sco 0600 M1.5 Iab, B3 V
0.97 (0.97 - 1.04var) Spica α Vir 0260 B1 III-IV, B2 V
1.14 Pollux β Gem 0034 K0 III
1.16 Fomalhaut α PsA 0025 A3 V
1.25 (1.21 - 1.29var) Deneb α Cyg 2,600 A2 Ia
1.25 (1.23 - 1.31var) Mimosa β Cru 0350 B0.5 II, B2 V
1.39 Regulus α Leo 0077 B7 V
1.50 Adhara ε CMa 0430 B2 Iab:
1.62 Shaula λ Sco 0700 B2 IV
1.62 (1.98 + 2.97) Castor α Gem 0052 Am, A1 V
1.64 Gacrux γ Cru 0088 M3.5 III
1.64 Bellatrix γ Ori 0240 B2 III
1.65 Elnath β Tau 0130 B7 III
1.69 Miaplacidus β Car 0110 A1 III
1.69 (1.64 - 1.74var) Alnilam ε Ori 2,000 B0 Ia
1.72 (1.81 - 1.87var + 4.27) γ1,2 Vel 0840 WC8, O7.5e
1.74 Alnair α Gru 0100 B7 IV
1.77 Alioth ε UMa 0081 A1 III-IVp kB9
1.77 Alnitak ζ Ori A 0820 O9.7 Ib, O9 III, B0 II-IV
1.79 Dubhe α UMa 0120 G9 III, A7.5
1.80 Mirfak α Per 0590 F5 Ib
1.82 Wezen δ CMa 1,800 F8 Ia
1.84 Sargas θ Sco 0270 F0 II
1.85 Kaus Australis ε Sgr 0140 B9.5 III
1.86 Avior ε Car 0630 K3 III, B2 Vp
1.86 Alkaid η UMa 0100 B3 V
1.90 (1.89 - 1.94var) Menkalinan β Aur 0100 A1mIV+A1mIV
1.91 Atria α TrA 0420 K2 IIb-IIIa
1.92 Alhena γ Gem 0100 A1.5 IV+
1.94 Peacock α Pav 0180 B2 IV
1.96 (1.99 - 2.39var + 5.57) Alsephina[7] δ Vel 0080 A1 Va(n), F2-F5
1.98 Mirzam β CMa 0500 B1 II-III
2.00 Alphard α Hya 0180 K3 II-III
1.98 (1.86 - 2.13var) Polaris α UMi 0430 F8 Ib
2.00 Hamal α Ari 0066 K1 IIIb
2.08 (2.37 + 3.64) Algieba γ1 Leo 0130 K0 III, G7 IIIb
2.02 Diphda β Cet 0096 K0 III
2.04 Mizar ζ UMa 0078 A2 Vp, A2 Vp, A1m
2.05 Nunki σ Sgr 0220 B2.5 V
2.06 Menkent θ Cen 0061 K0 III
2.05 (2.01 - 2.10var) Mirach β And 0200 M0III
2.06 Alpheratz α And 0097 B8 IV
2.07 Rasalhague α Oph 0047 A5 V
2.08 Kochab β UMi 0130 K4 III
2.09 Saiph κ Ori 0720 B0 Iab:
2.11 Denebola β Leo 0036 A3 Va
2.12 (2.1 - 3.39var) Algol β Per 0093 B8 V
2.15 (2.0 - 2.3var) Tiaki[7] β Gru 0170 M5 III
2.17 γ Cen 0130 A1IV, (A0III/A0III)
2.21 Aspidiske ι Car 0690 A9 Ib
2.21 (2.14 - 2.30var) Suhail λ Vel 0570 K4.5 Ib-II
2.23 (2.21 - 2.32var) Alphecca α CrB 0075 A0 V, G5 V
2.23 (2.23 - 2.35var) Mintaka δ Ori 0900 B0 III, O9 V
2.23 Sadr γ Cyg 1,500 F8 Ib
2.23 Eltanin γ Dra 0150 K5 III
2.24 Schedar α Cas 0230 K0 IIIa
2.25 Naos ζ Pup 1,100 O4 If(n)p
2.26 Almach γ And 0350 K3 IIb, B9.5 V, B9.5 V, A0 V
2.28 (2.25 - 2.31var) Caph β Cas 0054 F2 III
2.29 Izar ε Boo 0202 K0 II-III, A2 V
2.30 (2.29 - 2.34var) α Lup 0550 B1.5 III
2.30 (2.29 - 2.31var) ε Cen 0380 B1III
2.31 (1.6 - 2.32var) Dschubba δ Sco 0400 B0.3 IV
2.31 Larawag[7] ε Sco 0065 K1 III
2.35 (2.30 - 2.41var) η Cen 0310 B1.5Vne
2.37 Merak β UMa 0079 A1 IVps
2.38 Ankaa α Phe 0077 K0.5 IIIb
2.39 κ Sco 0460 B1.5 III
2.40 (0.7 - 3.0var) Enif ε Peg 0670 K2 Ib
2.42 (2.31 - 2.74var) Scheat β Peg 0200 M2.5 II-IIIe
2.43 Sabik η Oph 0049 A1 V, A3 V
2.44 Phecda γ UMa 0084 A0Ve
2.45 Aludra η CMa 2,000[8] B5 Ia
2.46 Markeb[7] κ Vel 0540 B2 IV
2.47 (1.6 - 3.0var) γ Cas 0610 B0.5 IVpe
2.48 Markab α Peg 0140 B9 III
2.48 Aljanah[7] ε Cyg 0072 K0 III-IV
2.50 Acrab β Sco 0404 B1V, B2V

Notes Edit


  1. Hoffleit, Dorrit; Jaschek, Carlos (1991). "The Bright star catalogue". New Haven. 
  2. Bessell, Michael S. (2005). "Standard Photometric Systems". Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics 43: 293. doi:10.1146/annurev.astro.41.082801.100251. Bibcode2005ARA&A..43..293B. 
  3. Ducati, J. R. (2002). "VizieR Online Data Catalog: Catalogue of Stellar Photometry in Johnson's 11-color system". CDS/ADC Collection of Electronic Catalogues 2237. Bibcode2002yCat.2237....0D. 
  4. "Macmillan Dictionary of Astronomy (Illingworth, Valerie, 1985)". Dictionary Series. Springer. p. 237. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  5. Landolt, Arlo U. (2009). "UBVRI Photometric Standard Stars Around the Celestial Equator: Updates and Additions". The Astronomical Journal 137 (5): 4186. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/137/5/4186. Bibcode2009AJ....137.4186L. 
  6. Harper, Graham M.; Brown, Alexander; Guinan, Edward F. (April 2008). "A New VLA-Hipparcos Distance to Betelgeuse and its Implications". The Astronomical Journal (IOP Publishing) 135 (4,): 1430–1440. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/135/4/1430. Bibcode2008AJ....135.1430H. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "IAU Catalog of Star Names". Retrieved 5 September 2017. 
  8. van Leeuwen, F. (November 2007). "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction". Astronomy and Astrophysics 474 (2): 653–664. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357. Bibcode2007A&A...474..653V. 

External linksEdit