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STARSMagnitudesThe magnitude scale was invented by an ancient Greek astronomer named Hipparchus in about150 BC He ranked the stars he could see in terms of their brightness with 1 representingthe brightest down to 6 representing the faintest Modern astronomy has extended thissystem to stars brighter than Hipparchus 1st magnitude stars and ones much much fainterthan 6As it turns out the eye senses brightness logarithmically so each increase in 5magnitudes corresponds to a decrease in brightness by a factor 100 The absolute magnitudeis the magnitude the stars would have if viewed from a distance of 10 parsecs or some 326light years Obviously Deneb is intrinsically very bright to make this list from itsgreater distance Rigel of nearly the same absolute magnitude but closer stands evenhigher in the list Note that most of these distances are really nearby on a cosmicscale and that they are generally uncertain by at least 20 All stars are variable tosome extent those which are visibly variable are marked with a vWhat are apparent and absolute magnitudes Apparent is how bright the appear to us in thesky The scale is somewhat arbitrary as explained above but a magnitude difference of 5has been set to exactly a factor of 100 in intensity Absolute magnitudes are how bright astar would appear from some standard distance arbitrarily set as 10 parsecs or about 326light years Stars can be as bright as absolute magnitude -8 and as faint as absolutemagnitude 16 or fainter There are thus a very few stars more than 100 times brighterthan Sirius while hardly any are known fainter than Wolf 356Star large celestial body composed of gravitationally contained hot gases emittingelectromagnetic radiation especially light as a result of nuclear reactions inside thestar The sun is a star With the sole exception of the sun the stars appear to be fixedmaintaining the same pattern in the skies year after year In fact the stars are in rapidmotion but their distances are so great
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