Reading the celestial map is a fun activity you can share with your family and friends. One of the easiest ways to get into it is by identifying what is the brightest star in the sky. By learning how to identify it you will slowly get to locate the other fainter stars and their stories.
What is the brightest star in the sky?
Contrary to popular belief, the brightest star in the sky isn’t Polaris, the polar star. The brightest star in the sky is actually called Sirius, or the dog star. Here are few characteristics about this star :
– The name Sirius means glowing in Greek
– Actually a constellation of two main stars ; Sirius A and Sirius B.
– Is 300 millions years old.
– It is the seventh the closest star to earth
Sirius B is a white dwarf star. This means the star is in its finale stage of life and will start to dim until it becomes completely black. At that point it stops burning and becomes a black dwarf.
About the brightness of Sirius :
This star is so bright, it is commonly mistaken for Jupiter and Venus. Yes, planets shine at night too just as stars do, but that is a different subject.
The brightness of a star is measured in terms of stellar magnitude scale. The lower the number, the brighter it will be. Only the moon and a few other stars can outshine this star !
Sirius may be the brightest star in the sky, it can’t be observed all year long unfortunately.
It is the brightest star if it is observed in the Northern Hemisphere in Autumn, winter and beginning of Spring.
Sirius-A can be easily seen with the naked eye. It is actually the star that is the easiest to detect with the naked eye. It comes with no surprise that it has been described by ancient texts, as it has always been the brightest star in human history. According to Nasa, its stellar magnitude is 20 times the one of the sun. It’s also twice as dense as the sun.
You may be wondering how come Sirius is so bright if there are many other closer stars ?
It is usually because of their size. The smaller the star, the dimmer it is. When you carefully observe Sirius, it happens to have a sort of pulsating and colourful quality, as if it had rainbow colours. In reality, all stars have this quality but it is less noticeable when they are further away.
Sirius may be the brightest star from our perspective, but isn’t actually the most luminous star in the sky in an absolute sense. Its size and location makes it the brightest for humans, but the most luminous star we’ve discovered so far is RMC-136af. This star is so far away from earth though that it can only be detected with a professional grade telescope.