Top 10 brightest objects in the night sky

The Night sky is one of the most spectacular scenes we get to witness. While stars shine because they emit their own light, our moon and planets shine because they reflect the sunlight. This article lists the top 10 brightest objects in the night sky based on their maximum apparent magnitude. The Apparent magnitude is a measure of the brightness of an astronomical object.

Note – Artificial satellites are not listed in this article.

Brightest objects in the night sky

1. Moon

Moon comes at number 1 on this list as no surprise. It has a maximum apparent magnitude of -12.7. The brightness of the moon is different for different phases.

Moon
Full moon

2. Venus

Venus is the brightest planet in the night sky. It is the second brightest object during the night and has a maximum apparent magnitude of -4.8. Venus is so bright because the clouds on Venus (mostly made of sulphuric acid droplets) are highly reflective. They reflect most of the sunlight that falls on them. Like the moon, Venus also has different phases.

Venus in the night sky with the crescent moon
Venus in the night sky with the crescent moon

3. Jupiter

Jupiter is the third brightest object in the night sky just because of its sheer size. The distance of Jupiter from the Earth is about 8 times the distance of Mars from the Earth. Still, Jupiter appears brighter than mars for the most part. Jupiter has a maximum apparent magnitude of -2.94.

Crescent moon, Jupiter, Mars
Crescent moon, Jupiter and Mars

4. Mars

The red planet comes at number four on this list. There are times however when Mars appear brighter than Jupiter. Its maximum apparent magnitude is -2.94.

5. Mercury

The smallest planet of our solar system is the fifth brightest object in the night sky. Its maximum apparent magnitude is -2.48. Mercury can only be seen in the twilight hours because of its close proximity to the Sun.

6. Sirius/α Canis Majoris

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. It is a binary star and has a maximum apparent magnitude of -1.46. Sirius consists of two stars Sirius A and Sirius B. However, It appears as a single point light because of its large distance from Earth.
(Binary star refers to two stars orbiting around a common barycenter.)

Sirius
Sirius

7. Canopus

Canopus is the second brightest star. It has a maximum apparent magnitude of -0.62. It is much larger in size than Sirius but since it is 36 times farther from the earth than Sirius is, it appears less bright.

Canopus

8. Saturn

The lord of the rings is the eighth brightest object in the night sky. It has a maximum apparent magnitude of -0.55.

Saturn in the night sky

9. Alpha Centauri AB

Alpha Centauri A (Rigil Kentaurus), Alpha Centauri B (Toliman), and Alpha Centauri C (Proxima Centauri) form a triple star system. It is the closest star system to our solar system. Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B form a binary star Alpha Centauri AB which appears as a single point light and has a maximum apparent magnitude of -0.29.

10. Arcturus

The tenth brightest object and the fourth brightest star, Arcturus has a mass similar to our Sun. However, it is 170 times more luminous. The maximum apparent magnitude of Arcturus is- 0.05.


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