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Stars that appear brightest in the night sky do so for one or both of two reasons. Either they are intrinsically very luminous or quite close to the Sun or both. Without exception, every one of the 50 brightest stars in the night sky is intrinsically brighter than the Sun (although in the case of Alpha Centauri, the nearest bright star of all, the difference is not great). However, their distances vary enormously. Those in the list below which lie furthest away, compensate for their remoteness by their extreme brilliance. The most intrinsically luminous stars known are hypergiants such as Eta Carinae, Rho Cassiopeiae, and the Pistol Star.
Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky with a visual apparent magnitude of −1.47, almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. Pronounced /ˈsɪɹiəs/, the name Sirius is derived from the Ancient Greek Σείριος. The star has the Bayer designation α Canis Majoris (α CMa, or Alpha Canis Majoris). What the naked eye perceives as a single star is actually a binary star system, consisting of a white main sequence star of spectral type A1V, termed Sirius A, and a faint white dwarf companion of spectral type DA2, termed Sirius B.
Sirius is bright due to both its intrinsic luminosity and its closeness to the Sun. At a distance of 2.6 parsecs (8.6 light-years), the Sirius system is one of our near neighbours. Sirius A is about twice as massive as the Sun and has an absolute visual magnitude of 1.42. It is 25 times more luminous than the Sun but has a significantly lower luminosity than other bright stars such as Canopus or Rigel. The system is between 200 and 300 million years old. It was originally composed of two bright bluish stars. The more massive of these, Sirius B, consumed its resources and became a red giant before shedding its outer layers and collapsing into its current state as a white dwarf around 120 million years ago.
Originally posted by peacejet
Yes the north star is not the brightest star in the sky, but the reason why it is used as a reference while navigating is because that the star remains stationary all the time in the northern hemisphere, inspite of the rotation of the earth.
Originally posted by mythatsabigprobe
Good thread, but I've never heard anyone claim the north star was the brightest in the sky. Only that it's roughly due north and in a relatively constant position while the earth rotates.
Polaris = Pole Star. It is the brightest star in it's constellation - Ursa Minor.