Star Naming Guide: Stargazing Basics

Why Are Some Stars Brighter Than Others?

Why are some stars brighter than others? There are two main factors when considering star brightness.

One is the actual brightness of the star. Some stars are simply more luminous than others are, and the brightness level varies greatly. Some stars burn brighter than a million suns, others emit only a millionth of the sun’s brightness

The other factor is proximity. The sun is technically the brightest star when viewed from Earth, but it is also the closest star to Earth. In reality, the sun is in the middle of the brightness range when compared to other stars.

Stargazers might wonder then, why is Venus, which is not a star at all, much brighter than many stars when viewed from Earth?

The answer is simple, and it is a factor when considering brightness. Venus does not give off its own light, but it does reflect sunlight toward Earth. In fact, this is the same reason the moon is visible at night.

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