The First Magnitude Stars Table lists the brighest stars in the sky that are -1, 0 and 1 magnitude. Sirius is the brighest at -1.44 magnitude. These stars are refered to as First Magnitude stars since they are all 1 magnitude or brighter.
Brightness of stars are assigned a number starting with the brightest star Sirius starting at -1.44 magnitude. Dimmer stars are positive numbers. The larger the number means the dimmer the star is. For example, a star -1 magnitude is brighter than a star 0 magnitude. A star 0 magnitude is brighter than a star 1 magnitude. A star 1 magnitude is brighter than a star 2 magnitude. Magnitude sequence for stars starting with the brightest is -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 magnitude, ... etc.
Star names come from Greek, Latin and Arabic origins. For example, Sirius and Capella are of Greek and Latin origns and Vega, Rigel, Aldebaran are Arabic derivations. In some cases two names are given to a star because some stars are refered to with multiple names.
The designation column gives the star's designation by Johann Bayer's letter and John Flamsteed's number.
Johann Bayer's Uranometer star maps (1603) introducted the designating the brighter stars
of each constellation by small letters of the Greek alphabet.
A different plan used in John Flamsteed's Historia Coelestis (1729). The stars are numbered consecutively from west to east across the constellation. Therefore, in the John Flamsteed system Sirius is designated 9 Canis Majoris.
In the Magnitude column the letter "c" refers to the combined magnitude of a double star and "v" refers to the median magnitude of a variable star. Star magnitude data is from the Hipparcos Catalog
First Magnitude Stars Table
|Sirius||9 Alpha CMa||-1.44|
|Rigil Kent or Alpha Centauri||Alpha Cen||-0.28c|
|Acturus||16 Alpha Boo||-0.05v|
|Vega||3 Alpha Lyr||0.03v|
|Capella||13 Alpha Aur||0.08v|
|Rigel||19 Beta Ori||0.18v|
|Procyon||10 Alpha CMi||0.40|
|Betelgeuse or Betelgeux||58 Alpha Ori||0.45v|
|Agena or Hadar||Beta Cen||0.61v|
|Altair||53 Alpha Aql||0.76v|
|Aldebaran||87 Alpha Tau||0.87|
|Spica||67 Alpha Vir||0.98v|
|Antares||21 Alpha Sco||1.06v|
|Pollux||78 Beta Gem||1.16|
|Fomalhaut||24 Alpha PsA||1.17|
|Beta Crucis||Beta Cru||1.25v|
|Deneb||50 Alpha Cyg||1.25v|
|Regulus||32 Alpha Leo||1.36|
For more information on these stars refer to the book Brilliant Stars by Patrick Moore, Cassell Publishers Limited, 189 pages.
© 1998-2003 David Haworth