Universe Guide


Capella, Alpha Aurigae, 13 Aurigae, HD34029, HIP24608, HR1708

Capella (Alpha Aurigae) is a red star that can be located in the constellation of Auriga. Capella is the 7th brightest star in the night sky and is the brightest star in Auriga based on the Hipparcos 2007 apparent magnitude. The star can be seen with the naked eye, that is, you don't need a telescope/binoculars to see it.

Alpha Aurigae is the Bayer Classification for the star. The Id of the star in the Yale Bright Star Catalogue is HR1708. HIP24608 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD34029. The Gliese ID of the star is Gliese GL194A. The star was part of the original catalogue devised by German Astronomer Wilheim Gliese of stars located within 20 parsecs of Earth. Ref : Star Names.

Capella has alternative name(s), NSV 01897.

Location of Capella

The location of the star in the galaxy is determined by the Right Ascension (R.A.) and Declination (Dec.), these are equivalent to the Longitude and Latitude on the Earth. The Right Ascension is how far expressed in time (hh:mm:ss) the star is along the celestial equator. If the R.A. is positive then its eastwards. The Declination is how far north or south the star is compared to the celestial equator and is expressed in degrees. For Capella, the location is 05h 16m 41.30 and +45d59`56.5 .

Proper Motion of Capella

All stars like planets orbit round a central spot, in the case of planets, its the central star such as the Sun. In the case of a star, its the galactic centre. The constellations that we see today will be different than they were 50,000 years ago or 50,000 years from now. Proper Motion details the movements of these stars and are measured in milliarcseconds. The star is moving -426.89 ± 0.31 miliarcseconds/year towards the north and 75.25 ± 0.46 miliarcseconds/year east if we saw them in the horizon.

Physical Properties (Colour, Temperature, Radius) of Capella

Capella has a spectral type of M1: comp. This means the star is a red star. The star is 7412.00000000 Parsecs from the Galactic Centre or terms of Light Years is 24175.2270572800000000s. The star has a B-V Colour Index of 0.79 which means the star's temperature has been calculated using information from Morgans @ Uni.edu at being 5,444 Kelvin.

Capella Radius has been calculated as being 13.09 times bigger than the Sun.The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 9,110,795.73.km. However with the 2007 release of updated Hipparcos files, the radius is now calculated at being round 13.28. The figure is derived at by using the formula from SDSS and has been known to produce widely incorrect figures. The star's Iron Abundance is -0.27 with an error value of 9.99 Fe/H with the Sun has a value of 1 to put it into context.

The star has a companion star which is in orbit close by, it has at least the following companions in close orbit, .

Capella Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Capella has an apparent magnitude of 0.08 which is how bright we see the star from Earth. Apparent Magnitude is also known as Visual Magnitude. If you used the 1997 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -0.48 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -0.51. Magnitude, whether it be apparent/visual or absolute magnitude is measured by a number, the smaller the number, the brighter the Star is. Our own Sun is the brightest star and therefore has the lowest of all magnitudes, -26.74. A faint star will have a high number.

Distance to Capella

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 77.29 which gave the calculated distance to Capella as 42.20 light years away from Earth or 12.94 parsecs. It would take a spaceship travelling at the speed of light, 42.20 years to get there. We don't have the technology or spaceship that can carry people over that distance yet.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 76.20 which put Capella at a distance of 42.80 light years or 13.12 parsecs. It should not be taken as though the star is moving closer or further away from us. It is purely that the distance was recalculated.

The star's Galacto-Centric Distance is 7,412.00 Parsecs or 24,175.23 Light Years. The Galacto-Centric Distance is the distance from the star to the Centre of the Galaxy which is Sagittarius A*. Capella brightness ranges from a magnitude of 0.253 to a magnitude of 0.216 over its variable period. The smaller the magnitude, the brighter the star. Its variable/pulsating period lasts for 0.0 days (variability).

Meteor Showers Radiating from near Capella

The Alpha Aurigids Meteor Shower radiants from a point near this star. The meteor shower runs typically between Aug 25-Sept 6 with a peak date of Sept. 1/2.

Source of Information

The source of the information if it has a Hip I.D. is from Simbad, the Hipparcos data library based at the University at Strasbourg, France. Hipparcos was a E.S.A. satellite operation launched in 1989 for four years. The items in red are values that I've calculated so they could well be wrong. Information regarding Metallicity and/or Mass is from the E.U. Exoplanets. The information was obtained as of 12th Feb 2017.

Capella Facts

Alternative Names

Traditional/Proper NameCapella
Flamsteed Name13 Aurigae
Flamsteed Short Name13 Aur
Short NameNSV 01897
Bayer DesignationAlpha Aurigae
Hipparcos Library I.D.24608
Yale Bright Star Catalogue (HR) Id1708
Bonner DurchmusterungBD+45 1077
Gliese ID194A
Henry Draper Designation34029

Visual Facts

Star Type star
Absolute Magnitude-0.48 / -0.51
Visual / Apparent Magnitude0.08
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)05h 16m 41.30
Declination (Dec.)+45d59`56.5
Galactic Latitude4.57 degrees
Galactic Longitude162.59 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth77.29 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 42.20 Light Years
 12.94 Parsecs
2007 Revised Distance from Earth76.20 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 42.80 Light Years
 13.12 Parsecs
Galacto-Centric Distance24,175.23 Light Years / 7,412.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.-426.89 ± 0.31 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.75.25 ± 0.46 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index0.79
Radial Velocity29.19 ± 0.07 km/s
Iron Abundance-0.27 ± 9.99 Fe/H
Semi-Major Axis2.16
Orbital Period (Days)104.02
Argument Of Periastron0.00
Spectral TypeM1: comp
Brightest in Night Sky7th
Colour(M) Red

Variable Star Details

Mean Variability Period in Days0.029
Variable Magnitude Range (Brighter - Dimmer)0.216 - 0.253

Estimated Facts

Calculated Effective Temperature5,444 Kelvin

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Related Stars

Multi-Star System

The star has been identified as being a multi-star system, one in which there is at least one star in close orbit to another star or two or more stars orbiting a central point. The stars may be of equal mass, unequal mass where one star is stronger than the other or be in groups orbiting a central point which doesn't necessarily have to be a star. More information can be found on my dedicated multiple star systems page. The source of the info is Simbad. The file is dated 2000 so any differences between this and any other source will be down to the actual source from where the information came from.

Proper Motion mas/yr
H.D. IdB.D. IdStar CodeMagnitudeR.A.Dec.SpectrumColourYear
34029+45 1077.0A2.1000081.00000-423.00000G0Yellow
+45 1076.0G10.1000020.00000-58.00000FOYellow/White1895

Location of Capella in Auriga

Capella (Alpha Aurigae) Location in Auriga

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

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