Universe Guide

What are the largest stars in the night sky we can see?

For this article, we are only referencing the stars that can be seen in the sky without the aid of a pair of binoculars or telescope. Most of the largest stars out there are variable stars so sometimes they can't be seen. If at their brightest, they can be seen then they're covered in this article.

The largest star with or without binoculars is UY Scuti but because its apparent magnitude is about 8.29, meaning you need at least a 8x50 pair of binoculars to see it, its therefore excluded from this article. A star must be at least 6.5 apparent magnitude to be on the list.

The brightness for this is based on the figures given by the Hipparcos catalogue rather than any other catalogue. I know some places have put VY Canis Majoris at 6.5 but as the figure is not what is on the catalogue, its been excluded.

VV Cephei (1,400 R)

All the larger stars are invisible to the naked eye, VV Cephei is the first star on the list that is possible to see with the naked eye. The star has an average apparent magnitude of 5.11 and is a variable star. Even at its dimmest, the star is still possible to be seen in the night sky at an apparent magnitude of 5.409. It is larger than the orbit of Jupiter and thankfully it is not at the centre of our solar system otherwise we would not be here.

Garnets Star (1,260 - 1,650 R)

Garnet's Star is a large red supergiant star, nearing the end of its life like other super massive stars. It is also known as Herschel's Garnet Star, named after the famed Anglo-German astronomer who discovered Uranus.

RW Cephei (981 - 1758R)

Another star from the Cepheus constellation. RW Cephei is just on the cusp of visibility but it unlike other stars, its doesn't dim much. It is a white to yellow supergiant unlike the other stars in the list. It is not the largest non-red star in the cosmos. The largest yellow star is HR 5171 located in the constellaiton of Centaurus in the southern hemisphere.

Betelgeuse ( 643 - 1094R)

Betelgeuse is one of the most well known stars in the night sky. Betelgeuse pronounced Beetlejuice like the character in the eighties film. Don't be worried about saying the name three times, nothing will happen. The star is a massive red supergiant that is nearing the ends of its day and when it goes bang, it will be a spectacular site to see. The star is believed to have once had stars in orbit but those no longer exist, having been swallowed up by the ever expanding star. This is one of the few giant stars that will not fade out of vision when it decreases in magnitude.

V915 Scorpii (760R)

An evolved supergiant is how Simbad calls it. Evolved meaning old and one that grown in size due to having left the main sequence stage. The star is also referred to as HR 6392 which it is recorded as on this site. The star would reach into the asteroid belt but wouldn't reach as far as Jupiter. Our planet would be fried though.

R Cygni (745R)

R Cygni is an old star, one that has finished its main sequence. It is an S Type Star, this is where the amount of Oxygen and Carbon in the atmospheres are roughly the same.

TV Geminorum (620-710R)

TV Geminorum is a star that can be located on the foot of the twin Castor. It is a variable star and one that will not always be visible but a good pair of binoculars should help you out.

Antares (680R)

Antares has always been known for its deep red colour. Its name meaning 'Oppositon to Ares (Mars)' due its deep red colour. The star is a major star of the constellation of Scorpius and will forever be visible unlike other giant stars out there.

119 Tauri (587-593R)

Located near the left horn of Taurus the bull, this is a large red supergiant star. It has the nickname Ruby Star on the grounds of its colour, red.

Aldebaran (44.13)

Special notice should be given to Aldebaran on the grounds that it is one of the largest stars known to have an orbiting planet. It might be a tiny star compared to the other stars in the list. Aldebaran is only a mere 44.13 times the radius of the Sun and doesn't even reach Mercury the innermost planet.

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