Humans have looked to the sky for millennia. Whether it be to devise stories and mythology, note the change of seasons, or navigate around the world’s oceans, the celestial sphere has been one of the most important human aides in history. In this list, we bring out the 10 brightest objects in space that you should be able to see (depending on the light pollution in your area) by just looking up to the heavens.

Objects in our sky are ranked by how bright they appear to the average person on Earth – a measure known as apparent visual magnitude. Over the course of a year, the apparent magnitude of a celestial body changes, due to two primary factors: firstly, we see a different sky throughout the course of the year, so a celestial body may not always be visible in our night sky; secondly, since the universe is constantly in motion, some bodies move further away from us with time. Though some objects are easy to spot in the sky, such as our beloved Moon, some are harder to spot unless you know where (or in which constellation) to look. For stargazers and amateur astronomers alike, read this list and see if you can find the 10 Brightest Objects in Space That You Can See With Your Naked Eye.


10. Aldebaran
The star Aldebaran (not to be confused with the Star Wars planet of Princess Leia, Alderaan) is the brightest star in the Taurus constellation. Its name comes from the Arabic words for “the Follower”. Aldebaran is remarkably easy to find in the night sky – just find Orion’s belt and follow the three stars from left to right (or right to left if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere) to find the next brightest star. Humanity will have a closer look at Aldebaran when the Pioneer 10 probe passes by in two million years. Yippee. Can’t wait.
9. Altair
The twelfth brightest star on our list (though 20th brightest celestial body), Altair is the second most luminous point of the Summer Triangle to us. It’s also the nearest star in the Triangle to Earth. (Deneb, the dimmest star to us, is 214 times further away and 7,000 times brighter than Altair when seen from the same distance away. The brightest star in the Triangle is #13.)
8. Vega
Vega is one of the most important stars in the heavens, with some even saying it’s the second most important after our sun. Located only 25 light years away from Earth, Vega used to be the northern pole star about 14,000 years ago (and it will be again around 13,727 A.D.) until its changing orbit made it less bright than Polaris. Vega was also notably the first non-Sun star to be captured on film.
7. Alpha Centauri
Alpha Centauri is part of a binary star system with #19. Though not much more luminous than our Sun, this star system is the closest (at 4.37 light years away) to our Solar System. Moreover, it acts as one end of the Southern Pointers which helped Ferdinand Magellan and other navigators find their way around the Southern Hemisphere. Many astronomers believe a planet (or many) could be orbiting the stars.


6. Mars
Mars has been the focus of amateur and professional astronomers alike for thousands of years. Easily distinguishable in the night sky by its reddish color, the Red Planet has an apparent magnitude of -2.91. Most easily seen from July to September, in August 2003, Mars was the brightest to us that it has been in 60,000 years.
5. Jupiter
The largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter is an easy target to pick out in the sky. Using a basic telescope, you can pick out the iconic cloud belts drooped across Jupiter’s surface and maybe even see its four largest moons. If you catch it at the right time, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is visible with a strong telescope.
4. Venus
The brightest planet we can see with the naked eye, Venus has played a role in human culture for millennia. Known by poets as the “morning star” and as the “evening star”, Venus can be seen after sunset after it overtakes the Earth on its yearly cycle and before sunrise after it passes the Earth. Venus is so bright that it can be seen at midday.
3. International Space Station
The only man-made object on our list, the International Space Station orbits the Earth over 15 times a day, creating plenty of viewing opportunities, though it is often confused for a rapidly-moving plane. To find out where and when the ISS will be in the sky above your head, check out NASA’s Spot the Station at https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/.


2. Moon
Our beloved Moon is the most recognizable (and biggest) object in the night sky. Sometimes visible during the day, the moon always shows us the same face because it is locked into a synchronous rotation. Though George W. Bush initially proposed the construction of a lunar base by 2024, NASA’s focus has since shifted to putting man in orbit around Mars by 2035.
1. Sun
It should come as no surprise that our life-giving star is the brightest object in the sky. Though you can see it with the naked eye, you might want to avoid doing so; though looking at the sun for a few seconds can’t actually cause you to go blind, looking at it for a few hours will. Besides being the brightest object in the sky with an apparent magnitude of -26.74, the Sun is also our closest star.

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