Labelling

Demonstrate an understanding of how stars within a constellation are labelled according to brightness (using Greek letters a to e)

On star maps, brighter stars appear as a larger dot and smaller stars as a smaller dot.

Stars are labelled according to their brightness. The system that astronomers use is the Bayer Designation, named after the German astronomer Johann Bayer who catalogued stars by using the Greek alphabet to represent their brightness where Alpha is the brightest, Beta the next brightest etc.

With this system the brightest star in Orion is Alpha Orionis.

When Bayer had used all the 24 letters he started using lower case Latin letters.

It is in use today but has been amended over time by the International Astronomy Union.

Some criticism of the system is that it does not take into account changes in the brightness of stars due to variability or that the Alpha star is sometimes not the brightest star. Changes in constellation boundaries have led to some confusion. The top right star of the square of Pegasus is Alpha Andromedae.

Amongst other ways to label stars are Flamsteed numbers which number stars by their brightness.

 

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Stargazing.net
Greek letters

Questions

Explain how stars are labelled in a constellation

Most used

alpha

beta

gamma

delta

epsilon