by John P. Pratt
©1998 by John P. Pratt. All rights Reserved.
There are fifteen bright (first magnitude) stars visible from all of the United States. There is something worth remembering about all fifteen, as listed in this table in order of brightness. I tried to cut the list to ten, but you would have been cheated. For the students in my class, the eight on which you will be tested are marked with an asterisk. All of these are much brighter intrinsically than the sun, which would only appear as an average (4th magnitude) star in our sky. There is also a list of other stars worth knowing.
The Fifteen Brightest Stars Visible in U.S.A.
|Name||Location||What to Remember|
|1. Sirius* (SI-ree-us)||Big Dog||Appears to be the brightest of all stars because it is nearest of those on this list (9 l.y.). It is white, but before Christ it was called red. Has white dwarf companion.|
|2. Arcturus* (ark-TOO-rus)||Herdsman||To find, follow "arc" of Big Dipper. Orange Giant.|
|3. Vega (VEE-ga)||Lyre||Nearby White Main Sequence. In summer Triangle.|
|4. Capella* (ka-PELL-la)||Charioteer||Nearly always above horizon.|
|5. Rigel* (RYE-jell)||Foot of Orion||Very Distant Blue supergiant: greatest true brightness on this list. Dominates our Orion arm of our Galaxy.|
|6. Procyon (PRO-see-on)||Little Dog||Near to Sirius and 2nd closest on this list (11 l.y.). Also has white dwarf companion, like Sirius.|
|7. Betelgeuse* (BETT-ul-jooz)||Shoulder of Orion||Huge red supergiant, the size of the orbit of Jupiter. In Orion cluster with Rigel and on the celestial equator.|
|8. Altair (al-TAIR)||Head of the Eagle||Nearby White Main Sequence. In summer Triangle.|
|9. Aldebaran* (al-DEB-a-ran)||Eye the Bull||Red Giant. One of 4 royal stars near ecliptic.|
|10. Antares* (an-TAIR-ees)||Heart of the Scorpion||Red Supergiant, almost as large as Betelgeuse. One of 4 royal stars near ecliptic.|
|11. Spica (SPY-ka)||Keep following arc past Acturus.||Nearby Blue Main Sequence, just below ecliptic.|
|12. Pollux (PAUL-uks)||Head of Twin nearest ecliptic||Orange Giant just above ecliptic. The other twin is Castor, which just missed being in top 15 (it's #17).|
|13. Fomalhaut (FOE-mal-ott)||Southern Fish||One of 4 royal stars; somewhat below the ecliptic.|
|14. Deneb (DEN-ebb)||Tail of the Swan||The most distant on this list: 1,500 l.y.; one of the brightest stars intrinsically. In summer triangle.|
|15. Regulus* (reg-YOU-lus)||Heart of the Lion||Leader of 4 royal stars, almost exactly on ecliptic.|