Scope on the Skies: The brightest stars in the sky

by: Bob Riddle

What makes some stars brighter than others? Interestingly, there is a relationship between the color of a star, its temperature, and its brightness. The temperature of a star determines its surface color and luminosity (the star’s actual output of energy, which we see as how bright it appears). In general, cool stars such as Betelgeuse are reddish; medium temperature stars such as our Sun are yellow-orange; and hotter stars, such as Sirius and Rigel, are blue or blue-white). The hottest stars, logically, are also the brightest stars. However, the size of the star and its distance from the Earth play important roles in how bright the star appears.


Type Journal ArticlePub Date 1/1/2003Stock # ss03_026_04_60Volume 026Issue 04

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