What Is the Brightest Star in the Sky?

The brightest of all the stars in our sky is Sirius, which is located in the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog. For that reason, this star is also known as the Dog Star.

Ancient astronomers noticed that Sirius rose with the sun late in the summer. That’s why we call the hot days of late summer the “dog days.” The ancient Egyptians also knew that Sirius rose with the sun before the season of the Nile River floods, and they worshiped this star as a god who helped farmers.

Because it is so bright, the Greeks called the star “scorching,” which is the origin of the word Sirius. But Sirius is really no brighter than many of the other stars in the sky; it appears so bright because it is close to us, only about 81/2 light-years away.

The second brightest-looking star in the sky, Canopus, is actually much brighter, but it is 111 light-years away. If you were halfway between these two stars, Canopus would be about 25 times as bright as Sirius!

For many centuries, people of the Dogon tribe in Africa have said that Sirius was a double star. They even claimed to know how long it took Sirius’ companion star to travel around Sirius.

Scientists didn’t discover that the Dogon people were right until about a century ago, and no one can figure out how they knew so much about Sirius.