Category Archives: Stars and Constellations

Skygazing : Top 20 bright stars in night sky

Some stars are brighter than others. Stars are classified according to their apparent brightness in the magnitude of -6 to 6. Negative values indicate brightest. Sun has a magnitude of -26 or so. While Venus has magnitude of -4 making it the brightest object after Sun and Moon. Let’s check which stars are visible in Surat tonight in the order of their magnitude.

Venus is visible after Sunset. To spot Venus look at towards North-West sky after Sunset. It will be shining bright enough to be seen in the dusk. It’s called as evening star. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible after midnight in the east. So in the evening Venus is the only planet visible this week.

Sirius is the brightest star. Today if you spot Venus and continue to look around in the sky after Sunset, then possibly the second object you will see is Sirius. It is nearly at the same altitude as Venus but towards the West.

StarVisibilityPosition
SiriusVisible Towards West after Sunset
CanopusBarely
visible
Near horizon towards South.
Goes below horizon after Sunset.
Rigil
Kentaurus
VisibleAfter 9 PM towards South.
ArcturusVisibleRises in the East after Sunset
& shines brightly whole night
VegaVisibleRises after 9:30 PM
in the North-east sky.
CapellaVisibleVisible after Sunset nearby
Venus
till 9PM or so.
RigelBarely
Visible
Follows Sunset and
visible near horizon for sometime.
ProcyonVisibleShines brightly high in sky after Sunset.
Visible till midnight.
AchernarNot
visible
Below horizon in South whole night
HadarVisibleRises barely high enough in the south sky after 9PM.
But is bright enough to be spotted.
AltairVisibleVisible near midnight through all night.
Rises from East follows Arcturus path.
AcruxVisibleJust slightly above the horizon in exact South.
Cannot see if you have buildings around you.
AldebaranBarely
visible
Almost about to set near horizon after Sunset.
AntaresVisibleRises after 9 PM in the South-East sky.
My favorite this month.
Brightest in Scorpius constellation
SpicaVisiblePasses overhead. Visible all night.
Brightest in Virgo constellation
PolluxVisibleVisible above Venus along with Castor.
FomalhautBarely
visible
Barely visible before Sunrise.
DenebVisibleRises in the north sky after 11pm
following the trajectory similar to Vega
MimosaVisibleAlso called Becrux visible after Sunset
near South till midnight.
Stays close to horizon.
Partners with Hadar, Rigel, Acrux, Gacrux and Decrux
RegulusVisibleVisible overhead after Sunset till midnight in West.
Brightest star in Leo constellation

So you can see many stars in the night sky after Sunset before midnight. By talking a walk after dinner you will be able to see maximum stars.


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Skygazing : Apparent motion of the stars

Earth revolves around the Sun and rotates on its own axis. Moon revolves around the Earth. Since Earth rotates on its axis from West to East, the sky appears to move from East to West. This can be seen easily with the movement of Sun and Moon across the sky during the span of hours. Similarly at night, stars move across the sky. Even though stars are very far away from us and they are not in moving around us, but due to the motion of Earth on its axis it seems that stars are moving around us.

Sky moves gradually over the night. If you are into sky gazing and enjoy looking at the stars, planets and Moon, you will notice slight movement of these objects with passing of hour. Often by using camera locked onto to a particular star, beautiful star trails are captured which so how the apparent movement of stars is a beautiful phenomenon.

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Some move right while others move left. Now that we understand that stars move in the sky from East to West, you will find that when you are facing towards the North, the sky seems to move from your right hand side towards your left hand side. When you are facing the South, the sky seems to move from your left hand side towards your right hand side. This apparent movement becomes a great experience when you observe the stars from a vantage point high enough to get a good glimpse of horizon in all sides. You will feel as if there is a line passing through from the sky to your location and all stars North of it move in a certain direction and all stars South of it move in opposite direction.

South sky is light up in Surat. If you observe Scorpius constellation rise in the sky tonight from Western India, it will be coming up in the South-East sky and slowly move towards the West not rising high enough to reach overhead. While Virgo would be higher than Scorpius and too far ahead will be Leo. All this while you are facing the South. You will see many stars directly towards the South shining in groups. Hadar, Rigel and Regor are particular in this sky. Canopus is not visible in summer.

North star helps to determine the direction at night. Then if you look in the opposite direction towards the North, you will see Vega star coming up in the sky late into the night and the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are going round about the Pole star. Venus is on the left hand side of you towards the west and it will go down the horizon.

More you look more you see. As you keep looking at the sky and your eyes get adjusted to darkness you will see more and more stars coming up like little bulbs of light