Brightest Stars

Regulus

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alpha leonis,brightest star in leo

Regulus, also known as Alpha Leonis, is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and the 21st brightest star in the night sky. It has an apparent magnitude of 1.35 and lies at a distance of 79.3 light years, or 24.3 parsecs, from Earth. Alpha Leonis is not really a single star, but a multiple star system.

The name Regulus means the “little king“ or “prince“ in Latin and the star is also known as Basiliskos, Cor Leonis (Lion’s Heart), Qalb al-Asad and Rex.
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Canopus

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canopus star,alpha carinae,second brightest star

Canopus, Alpha Carinae, is the brightest star in Carina constellation and the second brightest star in the night sky.

Canopus is fainter only than Sirius. The star is a supergiant or bright giant, yellowish-white in colour, with an apparent magnitude of -0.72. It is located at a distance of 310 light years from Earth. It lies too far south and can’t be seen north of latitude 37°18’N, but it is circumpolar for observers south of latitude 37°18’S.

For northern observers, Canopus doesn’t rise very high in the sky. The name Canopus comes from the Greek name Κάνωβος (Kanôbos), first recorded in Ptolemy’s Almagest (150 AD).
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Aldebaran

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alpha tauri,hyades,aldebaran star

Aldebaran, Alpha Tauri, also known as the Eye of Taurus, is an orange giant star located at a distance of 65 light years from Earth.

It is the brightest star in Taurus constellation and the 14th brightest star in the night sky. Aldebaran has a luminosity 518 times that of the Sun (153 times in visible light).

The name Aldebaran (pronounced /ælˈdɛbərən/) comes from the Arabic word al-dabarān, meaning “the follower.” The name refers to the Pleiades cluster (Messier 45), which the star appears to be following across the sky.
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Spica

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spica,alpha virginis,brightest star in virgo,virgo cluster

Spica, Alpha Virginis, is the brightest star in the southern constellation Virgo and the 16th brightest star in the sky.

It is a blue subgiant star located at a distance of 262 light years from Earth. Spica is really a close binary star system. It is one of the nearest massive binary stars to the solar system.

The name Spica (pronounced /ˈspaɪkə/) comes from the Latin phrase spīca virginis, meaning “Virgo’s ear of grain.” The Latin word spicum refers to the ear of wheat Virgo holds in her left hand. In Greek and Roman mythology, the constellation and the star were associated with Demeter (Ceres), the goddess of the harvest.
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Capella

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Capella, also known as Alpha Aurigae or the Goat Star, is the brightest star in Auriga and the sixth brightest star in the sky.

The only stars in the northern celestial hemisphere brighter than Capella are Arcturus in Boötes constellation and Vega in Lyra. The only other star visible from northern latitudes that is brighter than Capella is Sirius in the southern constellation Canis Major.

Capella is sometimes called the Goat Star because its name is derived from the diminutive of the Latin capra, meaning “female goat,” and means “the little goat.”
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Betelgeuse

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betelgeuse

Betelgeuse, Alpha Orionis, is the second brightest star in Orion constellation and the ninth brightest star in the sky. It is a supergiant star, distinctly red in colour, located at an approximate distance of 643 light years from Earth. It is an evolved star, one expected to explode as a supernova in a relatively near future.

Betelgeuse is a large, bright, massive star easily found in the sky in the winter months because it is part of a familiar pattern formed by the celestial Hunter. The red supergiant marks one of Orion‘s shoulders, while the hot, bright giant Bellatrix, Gamma Orionis, marks the other.
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Northern Cross

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northern cross stars,northern cross constellation

The Northern Cross is a prominent asterism formed by the brightest stars in the constellation Cygnus. The constellation is often confused for the asterism because the Northern Cross is much easier to find than the entire constellation.
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Antares

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alpha scorpii,antares star system

Antares, also known as Alpha Scorpii or Cor Scorpii, is the brightest star in Scorpius and the 15th brightest star in the night sky. Antares is a class M red supergiant marking the heart of the celestial scorpion. It lies at a distance of 550 light years from Earth.

The star is often confused for Mars, the red planet, by observers because it lies within the zodiac, which contains the apparent path of the Sun and planets of the solar system, and the two sometimes appear in the same area of the sky.

Antares was named for its resemblance to Mars, as they both appear reddish in colour. The comparison may have originated with early Mesopotamian astronomers.
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Polaris: The North Star

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polaris,north pole,little dipper,ursa minor

Polaris, also known as the North Star, Alpha Ursae Minoris or Star of Arcady, is the brightest star in Ursa Minor constellation.

Polaris is notable for currently being the closest bright star to the North Celestial Pole. The pole marks true north, which makes the North Star important in navigation, as the star’s elevation above the horizon closely matches the observer’s latitude.

The North Star has a reputation for being bright, but it is not among the top 10 or even the top 40 brightest stars in the night sky. It is only the 48th brightest star, and owes its reputation to the fact that it is the nearest relatively bright (second magnitude) star to the North Celestial Pole.
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