thumbnail

Brightest Objects in the Sky

Can you name the brightest extraterrestrial objects in the sky, as viewed from Earth?
Date from here and elsewhere on Wikipedia
Based on maximal brightness, not average
Quiz by scambigol
Rate:
Last updated: August 21, 2017
You have not attempted this quiz yet.
First submittedJuly 20, 2014
Times taken14,898
Average score40.9%
Rating4.36
4:00
Enter answer here
0
 / 22 guessed
The quiz is paused. You have remaining.
Scoring
You scored / = %
This beats or equals % of test takers also scored 100%
The average score is
Your high score is
Your fastest time is
Keep scrolling down for answers and more stats ...
V Mag
Object
-26.7
Sun
-12.7
Moon
-4.9
Venus
-4
International Space Station
-3.0
Mars
-2.94
Jupiter
-2.6
Mercury
-1.46
Sirius
-0.74
Canopus
-0.27
Alpha Centauri
-0.24
Saturn
V Mag
Object
-0.05
Arcturus
-0.02
Vega
0.03
Capella
0.05
Rigel
0.2
Betelgeuse
0.34
Procyon
0.40
Achernar
0.61
Beta Centauri
0.75
Aldebaran
0.76
Altair
0.76
Alpha Crucis
52 Comments
+5
Level 67
Jul 23, 2014
International Space Station?
+6
Level 77
Jul 23, 2014
Thanks! I was thinking that maybe I was missing something but I didn't find a proper list.

I've added it at -4 as that's what it says http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station

although it can reach -5.9 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apparent_magnitude

+2
Level 49
Feb 17, 2016
I am from Beeeeeeeeetlejuice 4!!! (Ford Prefect)
+1
Level 77
Aug 5, 2017
Why not call yourself Zogg?
+1
Level 75
Jun 26, 2021
Ford and Zaphod were both from Betelgeuse Five!
+3
Level 29
Jul 22, 2016
I thought that there are only included stars. I feel like a fool now.
+1
Level 83
Aug 22, 2017
I typed moon, but totally forgot to continue with others ...
+1
Level 51
Jul 18, 2017
Iridium satellite flares? (Just kidding)
+1
Level 58
Aug 30, 2017
I mean that is a valid point. if the ISS is included, why shouldn't Iridium Flares? They can be as bright as mag -7
+1
Level 76
Aug 20, 2017
Why the update? Has a new bright star appeared?
+8
Level 90
Aug 20, 2017
Including ISS is arguable. It originated from earth, and so is not really 'extraterrestrial', plus, technically, it's low earth orbit is still within the earth's atmosphere.
+2
Level 45
Aug 23, 2017
22% disagree with your logic.
+1
Level 79
Jun 27, 2021
I agree.
+1
Level 71
Jul 20, 2023
A casual dictionary search tells me something is extraterrestrial when it is "Originating or located or occurring outside Earth or its atmosphere". It is located outside the Earth, thus it's extraterrestrial (though not "extraterrestrial in origin" for example).

There's no "technical" point at which Earth's atmosphere stops... it just keeps going on getting thinner and thinner. But by common convention it ends and space begins at the Kármán line, 100 km above the surface of the Earth, and at 400 km, the ISS is well above that.

So while I would put a caveat that not all the objects are natural, or something like that, it's not incorrect as it stands.

+1
Level 69
Aug 21, 2017
I felt so stupid getting only 12, but then I saw the average is 9 and I feel better. I like hard quizzes like this.
+1
Level 77
Aug 21, 2017
Hard? I got 20 on my first try.
+6
Level 62
Jun 3, 2019
Still hard, even if your limitless intellect tells you otherwise.
+6
Level 84
Aug 21, 2017
Hard for mere mortals. I got 13. It was difficult for me too. I hope I can be as smart as mahble when I grow up.
+1
Level 68
Aug 21, 2017
Dang, I typed in Space Station, but not International.
+2
Level 67
Aug 21, 2017
Same here. Should be added surely.
+1
Level 44
Aug 21, 2017
Nice quiz!
+1
Level 56
Aug 21, 2017
cool!
+2
Level 82
Aug 21, 2017
I used to know well the names of Vega, Arcturus, Procyon, etc... some of them featured in fan-fiction authored by myself or my girlfriend in high school. We were both sci-fi geeks. And I studied Astronomy once a long time ago. Now, 20 years later, I only could remember 3 stars, but I got all the other objects.
+1
Level 77
Aug 21, 2017
ASTRONOMY NERDS FOR THE WINNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!
+4
Level 82
Aug 21, 2017
Are Halley's and other comets not brighter than some of these stars? Do these objects have to be visible from Earth at all times? I would think not since it is based on maximal brightness not averages. Though... then you open up the possibility of objects entering the atmosphere. I bet the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was pretty damn bright for at least a short while.
+1
Level 82
Aug 21, 2017
Nevermind. I looked it up and apparently Halley's Comet only has an apparent magnitude of 28
+1
Level 77
Aug 21, 2017
Right now it does - when it gets to the inner solar system its magnitude is lower than 6, making it a great comet. The brightest comets ever, though, have gotten all the way to -10 (Comet Ikeya-Seki).
+1
Level 77
Aug 21, 2017
And Halley's comet can get at least to -2.
+3
Level 82
Aug 22, 2017
Then why isn't it on the quiz since it says it's according to maximal brightness?
+1
Level 75
Aug 21, 2017
If ISS is on there, couldn't we include satellites? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_flare
+1
Level 51
Aug 21, 2017
Ugh, I swear I typed in Aldebaran! 21/22. I'm seeing that Antares has a maximum magnitude of 0.6, though
+2
Level 52
Aug 21, 2017
Would comets such as Halley's be acceptable or no?
+2
Level 84
Aug 21, 2017
Definitely some more guidance needed here. I realize you can't do anything about long-period comets, but Halley's should be on there. And many of the meteor showers (e.g. Perseids) reach negative magnitudes regularly.
+1
Level 60
Aug 22, 2017
I love this quiz! Creative...
+1
Level 85
Sep 4, 2018
Holy crap, the ISS is extraterrestrial?! What planet did it come from???
+5
Level 80
Jan 23, 2020
The same as the moon :)
+7
Level 70
Jan 2, 2019
The international space station is extraterrestial? Are you sirius??
+1
Level 65
Apr 25, 2019
How cool is it that we as humans have created one of the items on this list?
+4
Level 75
Jul 18, 2019
The fact that only half of the (reasonably knowledgeable) people on this site know the brightest star in the night sky depresses me.
+1
Level 56
Nov 24, 2020
Or, seemingly, any stars at all besides the sun
+1
Level 32
Apr 8, 2020
how is I.S.S brighter than the starrs lol
+4
Level 75
Sep 11, 2020
Proximity
+1
Level 64
May 12, 2020
I got 12 and misspelled Arcturus (as Arcturas) so I missed that one. Good quiz.
+3
Level 65
Feb 16, 2021
Thank you for accepting Beetlejuice lol
+1
Level 75
Jun 26, 2021
Fun quiz, thanks.

Will China's Tiangong space station project make the list now or soon? I did try to look it up and one page referred to a max magnitude of +1, but the article was from 5 years ago and not actually about the current station... So I'm sure it can be considerably brighter than that now!

Space.com: Spotting Tiangong-2

+1
Level 43
Feb 7, 2022
thanks for the answers lol
+1
Level 70
Apr 11, 2023
Fun fact, there are three objects in the sky that can cast a shadow on Earth; The Sun, The Moon and Venus.
+1
Level 53
Apr 17, 2023
How does the sun cast a shadow?
+2
Level 71
Jul 20, 2023
Read it "Fun fact, there are three objects in the sky [whose light is bright enough to] cast a [visible] shadow on Earth: ..."
+1
Level 82
Oct 13, 2023
I really should have gotten Alpha Centauri. What sort of Good Omens fan am I?!
+1
Level 71
Mar 11, 2024
What about the center of the Milky Way?
+1
Level 55
Apr 10, 2024
I did Sun Moon all the planets and just gave up