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Top 10 Brightest Stars

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Stars are massive shining spheres of hot gas, the closest of which is our Sun. Stars are primarily made of hydrogen, smaller amounts of helium, and trace amounts of other elements. Even the most abundant of the other elements present in stars are only present in very small quantities. Those stars which you see with your naked eye in the night sky all belong to the Milky Way Galaxy, the huge system of stars that contains our solar system.

Here are the Top 10 Brightest stars as seen from Earth.

1. Sirius

Close-up of Sirius
Hubble European Space Agency - Akira Fujii/Wikimedia Commons
Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the sky. Its name comes from the Greek word for scorching.
  • Distance: 8.6 LY
  • Spectral Type: A1Vm
Learn More: Sirius

2. Canopus

Named either for an ancient city in northern Egypt or the helmsman for Menelaus, Canopus is the second brightest star in the sky.
  • Distance: 74 LY
  • Spectral Type: F0II
Learn More: Canopus

3. Rigil Kentaurus

Rigel Kentaurus, also known as Alpha Centauri, is the third brightest star in the sky. Its name literally means foot of the centaur.
  • Distance: 4.3 LY
  • Spectral Type: G2V
Learn More: Rigil Kentaurus

4. Arcturus

Arcturus is the brightest star in the constellation Bootes, which is one of the oldest constellations in the night sky. It is the 4th-brightest star in the entire sky.
  • Distance: 34 LY
  • Spectral Type: 5IIIFe-0.5
Learn More: Arcturus

5. Vega

Vega is the fifth brightest star in the sky. Its name comes from the Arabic for the swooping eagle. Vega is about 25 light-years from Earth.
  • Distance: 25 LY
  • Spectral Type: A0Va
Learn More: Vega

6. Capella

The sixth brightest star in the sky, Capella's name is from the Latin for little she-goat. Capella is a yellow giant star, like our own sun, but much larger.
  • Distance: 41 LY
  • Spectral Type: G5IIIe+G0III
Learn More: Capella

7. Rigel

The seventh brightest star in the sky, Rigel's name is from the Arabic for foot, indicating its place in the constellation Orion. It is a blue supergiant and part of a 4 star system.
  • Distance: 1400 LY
  • Spectral Type: B8Ia
Learn More: Rigel

8. Procyon

Procyon is the eighth brightest star night sky. It is a yellow-white star and at 11.4 light years, one of the closer stars to Earth.
  • Distance: 11.4 LY
  • Spectral Type: F5IV-V
Learn More: Procyon

9. Achernar

The ninth brightest star night sky is Achernar. It is a bluish-white white supergiant star that is about 69 light years from Earth.
  • Distance: 69 LY
  • Spectral Type: B3Vpe
Learn More: Achernar

10. Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse is the tenth brightest star in the sky. It is a red supergiant about 13,000 times brighter than our sun and over 1000 times larger. If you placed Betelgeuse in the place of our sun, it would extend past the orbit of Jupiter.
  • Distance: ~1400 LY
  • Spectral Type: M1-2Ia-Iab
Learn More: Betelgeuse

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