How can I identify a star?

  • I'm obviously a novice. I see a star in the eastern sky every night. It is quite large and impressive. How can I identify it. Thank you.

    There should be a "canonical" answer for the "what is this star" question since the answer will normally be "use stellarium".

    If you have an Android phone, you can use an app like Skymap and hold your phone up at the sky and it'll help you identify the star. Can require a bit of manual calibration. For other phones, there are equivalents but not Skymap as Skymap is done by Google.

  • Mick

    Mick Correct answer

    5 years ago

    If an astronomical object appears to be very bright, and does not appear to 'twinkle' very much, then it is probably a planet, rather than a star. Jupiter is almost on the opposite side of the Earth to the Sun right now, so it will rise in the East when the Sun is setting in the West. Since Jupiter does look like a very bright star to the naked eye, and since it is in the part of the sky that you describe, then the object that you are seeing is almost certainly Jupiter.

    As for recognising actual stars, you really need to learn the layout of the constellations to some extent. This will allow you to find your way around the night sky. A useful tool for this is a program like Stellarium. This will show you the positions of stars and other astronomical objects, including the planets.

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