Top 10 Bright Stars In The Sky

Double Stars Bright Star

Curious about the bright star in the sky that you see and are unsure what it is? Looking to find out what the 10 brightest stars in the sky are? Find out what these stars are; although, not all are visible from the Pacific NW. These bright stars are not necessarily the brightest objects in the sky as items such as the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and other planets are brighter than some of these objects. We will discuss when these stars are visible and some additional information about these stars.


With a visual magnitude of −26.74 and located 0.000015823820 light years or 1 AU from the Earth, the sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect ball of hot plasma, that is heated by nuclear fusion. Crucial for life on Earth, the sun is a G-type main-sequence star that formed 4.6 billion years ago. The sun is the brightest star and object in the sky, that defines night and day for those living on the Earth and without this star, life on Earth would change as we know it.


With a visual magnitude of -1.46 and located 8.6 light years from the Earth, Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. Sirius is a binary star consisting of a main-sequence star of spectral type A0 or A1. The Sirius system is one of Earth’s closes neighboring star systems with it gradually moving closer to the Solar System, with the expectation to increase in brightness slightly over the next 60,000 years. Sirius is visible from everywhere on Earth, except for those at latitudes north of 73° N, as it does not rise very high when viewed from some northern cities. For those observers in the Southern Hemisphere, Sirius can be seen in both the evening in early July where the star sets after the Sun and in the morning where it rises before the Sun. For those observers in the Northern Hemisphere, Sirius forms one of the three vertices of the Winter Triangle to observers in the Northern Hemisphere.


With a visual magnitude of -0.74 located southern constellation of Carina, Canopus is the second-brightest star in the night sky. Located around 310 light-years from the Sun, Canopus is a bright giant of spectral type A9, so it is essentially white when seen with the naked eye. Canopus has been viewed by many cultures, thus has been used by cultures such as India, China, Sparta, and Egypt. Canopus is located in the southern sky, with it never rising to be visible in the Pacific Northwest, as it never rises in mid- to far-northern latitudes. For those looking to view Canopus, one would need to go below the theoretical northern limit of visibility of the 37° 18′ north latitude.

Rigil Kentaurus & Toliman (Alpha Centauri)

Alpha Centauri is a triple star system in the constellation of Centaurus, consisting of 3 stars: Rigil Kentaurus, Toliman, and Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is also the closest star to the Sun at 4.2465 light-years. To the naked eye, Alpha Centauri AB appears to be a single star, the brightest in the southern constellation of Centaurus. South of about 29° South latitude, Alpha Centauri is circumpolar and never sets below the horizon. North of about 29° N latitude, Alpha Centauri never rises and is best seen on April 24th and June 8th.


With a visual magnitude of −0.05, Arcturus is the third-brightest of the individual stars in the night sky, and the brightest individual star the northern celestial hemisphere. Arcturus is in the constellation Boötes and forms one corner of the Spring Triangle asterism. Visible from both Northern and Southern Hemisphere can view Arcturus, as the star is located 19° north of the celestial equator. The best time to view the star is around April 27th and June 10th. Finding Arcuturus in the northern hemisphere is done by following the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to Spica.


Located in the constellation Lyra, Vega is the 5th brightest night in the sky, but is the 2nd brightest star for those in the northern celestial hemisphere. For those living 12,000 BCE and then in the year 13,727 AD, Vega was the northern pole star. Vega can often be seen near the zenith in the mid-northern latitudes during the evening in the Northern Hemisphere summer, with the star crossing the meridian around July 1st. From mid-southern latitudes, it can be seen low above the northern horizon during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

Fun fact: is Vega is such a bright star that it was the first star, other than the sun, to have its image and spectrum photographed.


Located in the constellation Auriga, Capella is very prominent in northern winter sky, as it is circumpolar to observers north of 44°N. That means that for the majority of the Pacific Northwest, it is circumpolar. Although it appears to be a single star to the naked eye, Capella is actually a quadruple star system that is organized into 2 binary pairs. The yellow color is more apparent during daylight observation with a telescope, due to the contrast against the blue sky.

Capella is closer to the north celestial pole than any other first-magnitude star in the sky and because of its northern declination, it is actually invisible south of latitude 44°S. Visible halfway between Orion’s Belt and Polaris, Capella is at its highest in the night sky at midnight in early December.


Located in the constellation Orion, Rigel is the brightest and most massive component of a star system of at least four stars that appear as a single blue-white point of light to the naked eye. Rigel is 61,500 to 363,000 times as luminous as the Sun, and 18 to 24 times as massive. Scientists have determined that Rigel has exhausted its core hydrogen fuel, expanded, and cooled to become a supergiant with it is expected to end its life as a type II supernova. Rigel is visible on winter evenings in the Northern Hemisphere and on summer evenings in the Southern Hemisphere. The vertex of the Winter Hexagon, Rigel is the first bright star of Orion that is visible as it rises and the first star to set in Orion for those observers in the Northern Hemisphere.


Located in the Canis Minor constellation, Procyon is a binary star system and is best seen around January 14th. The star 1 of the 3 vertices of the Winter Triangle asterism. The prime period for evening viewing of Procyon is in late winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Observation is described as having a faint yellowish tinge.


Located in the Eridanus constellation, this bright star is actually part of binary star system. The Alpha Eridani is the hottest and bluest in color of the binary stars in the system. Over time, the star is moving north, and is the only first-magnitude star not listed in Ptolemy’s Almagest. Although it has been moving North in the sky, Achernar is in the deep southern sky and never rises above the horizon beyond 33°N, which is roughly the latitude of Dallas, Texas. It is best seen from the Southern Hemisphere in November and is circumpolar above 33°S.


This bright star has been in the news in 2021 and 2022 regarding theories about how the brightness has dimmed, which is thought to be the result of a duet cloud ejection. The second brightest star in the constellation of Orion, after the star Rigel, Betelgeuse has an apparent magnitude varying between +0.0 and +1.6, which is the widest range displayed by any first-magnitude star. Betelgeuse is so large in size that if it were at the center of our Solar System, its surface would lie beyond the asteroid belt; thus engulfing the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Betelgeuse is easy to find with the naked eye and is one of three stars that make up the Winter Triangle asterism, and it marks the center of the Winter Hexagon. At the beginning of January of each year, the star can be seen rising in the east just after sunset, and from mid-September to mid-March, it is visible to virtually every inhabited region of the globe. For those in the moderate northern latitudes, May has Betelgeuse briefly seen on the western horizon after sunset.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and make sure to check out other Top 5 articles like this.

Be the first to comment on "Top 10 Bright Stars In The Sky"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.