Talk:List of brightest stars

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from article

(moved from article:) Magnitudes should be added at some point, plus maybe some basis stellar data, tabulate...

I created a new list, this one of 100 brightest stars, started with the Observer's Handbook list of 314 bightest stars, and sorted by brightness, and reformatted here. I included apparent magnitude and constellation designation names, as well as proper names. There may be value in giving distance, luminosity, spectral types, or other information, but I didn't have these easily available now.

It looks like most of the proper names are good links to articles about the stars, although I didn't check them all.

Feel free to edit further.

--Tomruen 05:30, 13 May 2004 (UTC)

this list

This list is inaccurate. I have gone through and added proper names to the stars that have them, or links to Bayer designations where the star does not have one so that an entry can be created for them. I have not dealt with the inaccuracies yet (for example, τ CrB is listed as the 50th brightest star when it's visual magnitude is far dimmer than a 4) but may do so in the future. Arkyan 20:15, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

I agree it is inaccurate and also difficult to verify. It claims the Hipparcos as the source of distances but gives no good link for me to check (I tried and failed via Also what is the source of the magnitudes? It does not appear to be the Bright Star Catalogue, 5th Revised Ed. (I checked a few). Finally I've moved the text about the list being ill defined to the top to warn the reader, and marked Polaris and Betelgeuse as variable. -Wikibob | Talk 18:13, 2005 Apr 3 (UTC)

Most luminous stars

Different sources give drastically different information for lists of the most luminous stars (by absolute magnitude). See for instance: , from Hipparcos data.

I wonder about the usefulness of this information, when different sources give such radically different lists (and I do mean radically different). -- Curps 21:36, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

Why did you delete over 50% of the article (by absolute magnitude) without discussing this first? There are ofcourse different measures in the luminosity of a star, and there will always be. but that is already explained in the introduction of that section. You are assuming that the Hipparcos catalogue is like the 'holy bible'. However, that catalogue is not updated since: Mon Sep 15 17:08:57 MEST 2003, almost two years ago! New measurements have been taken since, if you search deeper on the web, other observatories have given more recent measurements. But besides this, google is not the holy bible either. I have compiled this list with consulting a lot of resources, and took me over 3 times 8 hours to verify & complete. In cases of doubt, I decided to follow the latest-to-date measurement, or else the maximum given for that specific star. All are from credible sources, catalogues and observatories around the globe. This list will ofcourse always be incomplete, and new measurements in the future might give a diffent reading on a star. But this should not mean that this section should not be present on wikipedia. Absence of knowledge is ignorance!
Patrick1982 10:31, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
I gave the reasons for the removal in the edit summary, and I did leave a comment here on the talk page, just above your own comment. When data is entirely unreliable, it is better not to present it at all.
By the way, your table included two entries each for Beta Crucis and Lambda Scorpii, with different information. When I noticed this, I tried to look up which of the two entries was correct, and that was when I discovered the problem with different online sources drastically disagreeing with one another.
Also, the last eleven entries (Spica through Sirius) should really be omitted; Sirius, in particular is not at all one of the intrinsically most luminous stars.
Can you provide references for the data table you present? References to scientific literature, for instance, via NASA ADS. This should be some widely available reference, not your own original research. Wikipedia usually recommends but does not require supplying references, but given the very great contradictions of various online sources, and given that you are claiming that your data is more accurate than Hipparcos data, it is really necessary to document where this data comes from.
It is not surprising that Hipparcos data hasn't been updated, because the satellite took its measurements and more accurate measurements aren't expected until the proposed European probe launches in 2012 or so. Are you saying that new ground-based parallax measurements have been made in recent years that are more accurate than Hipparcos? Can you provide references?
-- Curps 22:20, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

I propose moving By absolute magnitude and Other objects to List of most luminous stars. Most luminous is not the same as brightest and I think they deserve separate pages. --Fournax 14:07, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. I wonder if List of largest stars ought to be merged with a List of most luminous stars in some way since they'll be closely related. Tom Ruen 22:58, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
I did the move and linked from List of most luminous stars to List of largest stars (and vice-versa). --Fournax 13:29, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Negative Brightness?

Could someone add a line explaining how luminosity is measured, and why the brightness of the brightest stars is negative? (Or link to same.) Mjs 11:46, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

  • The brightness is quoted in arcane astronomer's units called "magnitudes". They are related to the real intensity Fx through the following relationship:
For more details see the pages on Apparent magnitude and Absolute magnitude.
Rnt20 12:14, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
  • It's not really that arcane.
The Greeks categorized a star's brightness by placing it in one of six classes, from 1st magnitude (the brightest) down to 6th magnitude (the dimmest). Now it turns out that the human nervous system, including its sensitivity to light, reacts to stimuli on a logarithmic scale. It also turned out that, when we were able to measure starlight accurately, the approximate difference between a typical 1st mag star and a 6th mag star was 100:1. So, if the difference of five magnitudes is 100x the brightness, the difference of one magnitude is the fifth root of 100. That's what the formula above is all about.
Okay now, we've got a relative scale, but we still need some specific reference point to measure from. Polaris, the North Star was taken as the typical 2nd magnitude star and assigned the magnitude of 2.0 exactly. Any star between 1.5 and 2.5 was 2nd magnitude. By analogy 1st magnitude was between 0.5 and 1.5 on the same scale. It turned out that six stars were even brighter, falling between 0.0 and 0.5 with Arcturus and Vega at 0.0 exactly. (Things have been slightly refined since.) Still, no problem. Any star brighter than 0.5 is stll called "1st magnitude" as nobody felt like saying "zeroth magnitude."
However, three stars (Sirius, Canopus, and Alpha Centauri) are even brighter than Arcturus. So the scale was extended beyond 0.0 into negative numbers. That's all.
So a negative magnitude just means "even brighter than 1st." B00P 03:27, 20 February 2006 (UTC)


Why is this still a stub? It seems long enough that the term should no longer apply. Whitepaw 20:04, 2005 May 4 (UTC)


The implied accuracy for some of these distance measurements seems a bit too high, at least to me. At best probably only three digits are reasonably accurate, so anything over 99 ly you could drop the decimal and be about as close. For example, the parallax of Canopus is 0.01043" ± 0.00053". That's equivalent to error range on the order of 297-329 ly. 313 ly should be good enough I would think, rather than 312.73. Thanks. :) — RJH 20:38, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. The only star justified to 2 decimals is alpha Centauri. The Hipparcos catalog is within 10% only for distances less than 100 parsecs(~326 lys.), as per the Hipparcos site. Over 100 parsecs, the data are good for statistical analysis only. For a list such as this, there is no set protocol with manipulating the distance estimates. So, how about 1 decimal if less than 5 parsecs, to the nearest light year if 10 parsecs(~32.6 lys) or less; less than 100 lys- add a tilde (for roughly) and to the nearest ly or so. One hundred to a thousand-to the nearest 50 lys; one thousand to 2 thousand-nearest 100 lys. More than 2 thousand-nearest thousand lys. Mytg8 19:44, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
This is a very handsome and informative table but... The idea of changing the distances, e.g. Saiph from 722 to 720 is really not justified due to the inherent inaccuracies of the parallax method. In reality, this star could be 620 light years or 860; either is just as likely as 720 or 722, according to the quoted errors.Mytg8 15:29, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
Actually, 722 is very slightly more likely than 720 and both are significantly more likely than 617 light years (the one sigma lower limit) or 870 light years (the one sigma upper limit). But your point is well taken. The Hipparcos parallaxes are not of sufficient quality to justify three significant figures so I've changed the distances to two significant figures. Fournax 00:01, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
You're correct; I overstated my remarks. What I should have said, probably, was that there was a real possibility, however small, that the distance quoted could be 100 light years in error.Mytg8 15:27, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

S. Doradus

Why is S Doradus not on the list of stars with highest absolute brightness?

But it is! See List of most luminous stars! This is the list of stars with highest apparent brightness as seen from Earth. Said: Rursus () 18:41, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Alpha Centauri

For some unknown reason Alpha Centauri is treated differently than all other stars in Wikipedia.

It is being listed as the fourth brightest star in apparent magnitude when it is actually third. The discrepancy comes about because it is Alpha Centauri A that is being referred to. Then Alpha Centauri B gets a separate listing. Why? Capella, Acrux, and Mimosa, for example, are not treated component-by-component, but as the single point sources they appear to be to the naked eye. This is inconsistant. Worse, it is a positive source of confusion and misinformation. Consider, say, Acrux and Deneb. Based on this list alone, one would be led to think that all the 1st magnitude stars are singles except for α Cen, and that Acrux is brighter than Deneb. The reality is that Acrux is a binary and that Deneb is brighter than either α Cru A or B. Combined the stars of the Acrux system outshine Deneb, but unless one referred to the article on Acrux directly, one would never know.

Why is Alpha Centauri the only system whose components are individually listed? (Unsigned by B00P.)

It's a good point. We could have an additional table listing the brightest components that can't be resolved by the unaided eye, then merge your examples in there. — RJH 19:57, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

I've separated out Capella, Acrux, Castor, and Mizar. Capella B and Acrux B are bright enough to be on the list by themselves so now we have the 102 brightest stars. It might make more sense to make it a magnitude cutoff (2.50 would give us 95 stars). Other stars on the list are multiples but if the magnitude difference between them is greater than five then the total magnitude is changed by less than 0.01 so it probably doesn't make sense to break those out indivudually. Fournax 14:00, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Theta1 C Orionis

Surely, there must be something wrong with the values for Theta 1 C Orionis. If it is 210000 times brighter than the sun, why does it only have an absoute magnitude of -4.3? Shouldn't it be in the neighbourhood of -9 to sort properly into the list? Drhex 20:27, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Distances derived from OB studies

In an attempt to provide distances for the more remote stars on the list, I have the following URL for a survey of OB associations. This catalog is a compendium by the respected astronomer Roberta Humphreys.

There are a couple of problems with this, however. One, it's almost 30 years old of course. Two, I'm not sure, and it's not stated in the paper, the errors involved. I read somewhere--unfortunately where I can't find--that the errors are estimated at 20 per cent, plus or minus? Any one else know more? Would these distances therefore be more accurate than a trig. parallax? (they would only involve those stars in OB associations--namely Deneb, Rigel, and several others more than 1000 light years away) Mytg8 16:28, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Yep, it is a rather old and apparently obscure paper.<gr> The author is a respected and veteran astrophysicist. It is a compendium of results; I'm not aware of a similiar more recent paper. She gives the distance modulus and extinction of each star so it's trivial to calculate the distance. Surely this wouldn't be original research? Anyway, when I get to it, I'll add the distances calculated from her results. It would result in modifying 5 stars belonging to OB associations.Mytg8 16:25, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
Hipparcos has now provided us with parallax data that Roberta Humphreys didn't have 30 years ago. Trigonometric parallax is the gold standard for stellar distances and I think it would probably be better to stick with Hipparcos distances when we have them. The closest of the five, Saiph, is definitely closer than the OB association distance (parallax distance of 720 light years with an uncertainty range of 620 to 870 light years, compared to the OB association distance of 1,500 light years). Given that the OB association distance is so far off in that case, I would recommend switching back to the parallax distances for all five. It's true that the OB association distances are within the parallax errors for the more distant four (for example, Deneb and Aludra have parallax distances of 3,200 light years, with uncertainty ranges of about 2,100 to 7,300 light years). But keeping all distances as Hipparcos parallax distances gives us a consistent set. Even if they are wrong, they are likely to be wrong in the same way. Also, the individual star pages gives the parallax distance, so we should probably stick to that for consistency. --Fournax 23:26, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
I have to agree your consistency argument makes sense and you've made some good points. The errors for such well known stars as Deneb and Saiph seem to be so huge, despite the remarkable successes of the Hipparcos satellite with many closer stars, that I thought there might be other sources as accurate or more so. I guess we'll have to await for the proposed new astrometric satellites to settle this complicated issue.Mytg8 17:49, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
On the other hand :), your example Saiph has been consistently listed as B0 or B0.5 spectral class; a Ia or Iab supergiant. Compendium estimates for the M_visual for that class is -6 or -7. or Which would indicate Saiph is much further away than 700 light years and closer to Humphrey's OB estimate, if the extinction is small. I'm not trying to belabor the point, but we're talking about one of the brightest stars in probably the most famous constellation in the sky.Mytg8 16:41, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
You make an excellent point. I found a recent paper ( Cowther et al., 2006, A&A, Vol. 446, pp. 279-293 ) that references Brown et al. 1994 for the distances to Alnilam (1200 light years) and Saiph (1300 light years), rather than their 1997 Hipparcos distances of 1300 and 720 light years, respectively. Here's what they say about Saiph: "Kudritzki et al. (1999) adopted the Hipparcos distance to HD 38771, whilst we adhere its the membership of Ori OB1c." So there's a difference of opinion among stellar astronomers. Given my consistency arguments above, I still think we should stick to Hipparcos distances for this page. But adding the OB association distances to the individual star pages sounds like a good idea. It would, however, probably be better to use a more recent paper than Humphreys. Cowther et al. give distance references in their Table 1. Most of these references are from the last fifteen years or so, although the distance reference for two of the dimmer stars is Humphreys (1978), so some of her distances are still being used. --Fournax 20:45, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

L:st size

Should this list be the 100 brightest stars? It would make a round number list size.

  • I think it makes more sense to have a brightness cutoff (in this case a V magnitude of 2.50) rather that a particular number of stars. --Fournax 20:24, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Historical brightest stars

Reference: Sky and Telescope, April 1998 (p60), based on computations from HIPPARCOS data. The calculations exclude stars where distance or proper motion figures are uncertain.

Star Start
Distance at
maximum (LY)
Epsilon Canis Majoris ... -4,460,000 -4,700,000 -3.99 34
Beta Canis Majoris -4,460,000 -3,700,000 -4,420,000 -3.65 37
Canopus (first time) -3,700,000 -1,370,000 -3,110,000 -1.86 177
Zeta Sagittarii -1,370,000 -1,080,000 -1,200,000 -2.74 8
Zeta Leporis -1,080,000 -950,000 -1,050,000 -2.05 5.3
Canopus (second time) -950,000 -420,000 -950,000[1] -1.09[1] 252[1]
Aldebaran -420,000 -210,000 -320,000 -1.54 21.5
Capella -210,000 -160,000 -240,000[2] -0.82[2] 27.9[2]
Canopus (third time) -160,000 -90,000 -160,000 [1] -0.70[1] 302[1]
Sirius -90,000 +210,000 +60,000 -1.64 7.8
Vega +210,000 +480,000 +290,000 -0.81 17.2
Canopus (fourth time)[3] +480,000 +990,000 +480,000[1] -0.40 346[1]
Beta Aurigae +990,000 +1,150,000 +1,190,000[2] -0.40[2] 28.5[2]
Delta Scuti +1,150,000 +1,330,000 +1,250,000 -1.84 9.2
Gamma Draconis +1,330,000 +2,030,000 +1,550,000 -1.39 27.7
Upsilon Librae +2,030,000 +2,670,000 +2,290,000 -0.46 30
HR 2853 +2,670,000 +3,050,000 +2,870,000 -0.88 14
Omicron Herculis +3,050,000 +3,870,000 +3,470,000 -0.63 44
Beta Cygni +3,870,000 ... +4,610,000 -0.52 80
[1] Peak magnitude is not the brightest for this star
[2] This peak occurs when another star is brightest
[3] This assumes that the star does not become a supernova before this time
-- B.D.Mills  (T, C) 08:08, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Historical? Can we have some context here? Start and end of what? —Tamfang (talk) 00:23, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Ah, having read Epsilon Canis Majoris I get it: "Start and End" of the given star's reign as brightest, in years relative to the present. —Tamfang (talk) 00:33, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
A very interesting table - worthy to put in the article I think! Tom Ruen (talk) 01:21, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
Here's a graph to get a better visual understanding. I "faked" 3 magnitude points per star to include start/end brightnesses since they'll cross at least. Better to get original source data from the article if included OR recompute real graphs (not too hard) for each star interval. Tom Ruen (talk) 02:02, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
Historic brightest star timeline.png


Normally I would have said: "Be bold" etc. Now I don't, just go HERE! Said: Rursus () 18:46, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Delta Orionis

Why isn't Mintaka on the list? Is it because it's a binary star with magnitude 3.3 each? (talk) 17:21, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes, the list includes all individual stars with magnitudes less than or equal to 2.50. — Fournax (talk) 14:47, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Sorting by Distance

When you try to sort by distance in descending order, it seems to be sorting by alphabetical rather than numerical order. For example, 97 light years shows up as being farther than 840 light years. Fried Gold (talk) 10:18, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Can that be avoided other than by inserting leading zeros? —Tamfang (talk) 04:19, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
The sorts work on character values rather than numerical values, so the magnitude sort doesn't handle stars with negative magnitudes correctly. It might make sense to remove the distance and magnitude sorts until they can be fixed. —Fournax (talk) 14:53, 10 August 2008 (UTC)
Not exactly, the sort in ascending order seems to operate numerically (for example: 11 is placed before 25, but 110 is placed after 25) however, the sort in descending order seems to operate lexicographically. I think this should be reported as a bug. (talk) 13:16, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

The table in U.S. state#List of states uses a cunning device: the population of Alaska, for example, is "<span style="display:none">00,</span>683,478". The negative magnitude problem could be solved by adding a constant, say 10, to the invisible version of each entry. —Tamfang (talk) 04:19, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

I added zeros before I saw this conversation. When table coding gets too complicated, my brain explodes so I don't know if can do what Tamfang has suggested but I certainly won't get mad if someone reverts me and fixes the problem in a better way. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 18:57, 19 January 2009 (UTC)


Being interested in Orion's belt, I noticed Rigel, on it's own Wikipedia page, was listed to have a brightness of .18. Meanwhile, here it is listed as .112. I don't know if the .112 is from new information, but everywhere else I've read said .18. Could someone verify this? I don't feel confident searching on my own to pick and choose what should be regarded as safe and trustable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:13, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Hm, Rigel is multiple but the second-brightest component is nowhere near bright enough to explain the difference (its magnitude is 6.7 and it would need to be 3.2). —Tamfang (talk) 06:40, 4 February 2009 (UTC)


I noticed that Menkalinan is missing from the list, even if its magnitude is (talk) 17:55, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Also Mintaka, at 2.23. Something to do with multiples? Rothorpe (talk) 17:14, 19 September 2010 (UTC)


I'm finding that this list is confusing at best, misleading at worst. The main reason is that there does not seem to be any clear parameters as to when multiple stars are shown individually or collectively. Capella and Alpha Centauri are broken up into 2 components. Meanwhile Sirius, a triple star system, is shown as one star, as is Arcturus, Rigel, Procyon etc, which are all star systems as well.

It seems to me that the KISS formula would work well here. Let's keep this list as simple as possible and list ALL stars, as they typically appear to us on Earth. Consequently, I'd like to show Capella as one star and Alpha Centauri as well for the purpose of this list. The refinements in apparent or absolute magnitude that result from other factors like variability or orbital companions can either show up in a note column (with Detailed Note section below) or, of course, in the star article itself.

Why I believe this would be more useful is it answers some of the most basic questions that stargazers have regarding stars — questions like which stars are the brightest. Dividing stars up arbitrarily as we do here only obfuscates the issue, and that makes it difficult when you are drafting a Visibility section (see FA articles Sirius and Vega) whose main purpose is to discuss some of the most basic characteristics of these stars.

Where I ran into this problem is with the star Betelgeuse. I made a claim it was the 8th brightest star in the sky as SIMBAD lists it with an average apparent magnitude of 0.42, ahead of Achernar. But lo and behold Spacepotato pointed out that Capella is brighter; it just doesn't seem so from the list, as it is broken up in two. This kind of confusion is not helpful, which causes me to wonder whether I should reference this list at all, hoping to save the reader from unnecessary befuddlement. Sadalsuud (talk) 03:27, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

I don't think the list as it stands is the list most people want. I think what they want is the list of brightest star systems that are one point of light to the naked eye. The current list could be retained lower down in the page as a second list of brightest individual stars. The problems Sadalsuud mentions might still need sorting out. If we are talking brightest individual stars then it's absolute not apparent magnitude that is important. Caviare (talk) 05:34, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

Spectral classes in table

Can someone fix the problem, that when i sort by spectral classes, it sorts by the correct order of colour (OBAFGKM), not alphabetically, because it doesn't make any sense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:54, 15 February 2011 (UTC)


What is the purpose of this table? The most sensible and logical perspective to me is: 'What are the top 100 brightest stars visible in the night sky?' In this straightforward question, the table will give me the top 100 brightest stars visble with the naked eye, ranked in descending order of brightness. The level of detail going down to stars like Capella A, Capella B, Alpha-1 Centauri, Alpha-2 Centauri, etc seems overcomplicated, since both Capella and Alpha Centauri appear as single points of light to the unaided human eye. If we're gonna go down this route with every star in this list, it will become neverending. Castor (Alpha Geminorum), for example, is a six-star system. Are we going to list the spectroscopic componets of Castor? :-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruislick0 (talkcontribs) 10:21, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

Several distances are off

Several of these stars have pages which list distances very different from the values in this table. I don't have the expertise to evaluate these, but shouldn't the value in the table be about the center of the range of possible distances listed on the page in the star data? I changed the value for Beta Centauri which looked like a typo ( 530ly -> 350ly ), but the following stars are also significantly off: Rigel, Beta Crucis, Alnitak, Alpha Persei, Delta Canis Majoris, Saiph, Zeta Puppis, Gamma Cygni, Alpha Lupi, Delta Scorpii, Gamma Cassiopeiae, and Eta Canis Majoris. (talk) 17:39, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Request for comment: Listing individual components of stars which are seen as single points from earth

Right, let's vote and get some idea of consensus on this. At the moment separate components of star systems (Alpha Centauri, Capella, Castor are listed individually. Issues raised include that these values are not helpful as they are only seen as single points of light from earth, and other stars are star systems (Rigel, Sirius) and not split. Given Apparent Magnitude is what is seen from earth, it does beg the question what apparent magnitude of a star which you can't split (i.e. Capella) means anyway. So let's have some input.

Keep binary stars as single-entry

  • This involves listing Capella, Alpha Cent, Castor etc. at their combined apparent magnitude for the systems.


  1. Casliber (talk · contribs) 05:07, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
  2. Reyk YO! 05:25, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
  3. This seems reasonable for a list whose main criterion is visual appearance. Of course, binary splits visible to the naked eye should be listed separately, if any happen to appear on the list; I'm assuming this is only for telescopic or spectral binaries. David Eppstein (talk) 05:56, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
  4. Conditional support; I support this as long as footnotes are provided that say where in the list the systems' individual components would be. StringTheory11 (t • c) 05:03, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
  5. That's fine with me. —Tamfang (talk) 03:42, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
  6. As noted at the top, This article is about apparent magnitude. -- Scray (talk) 02:11, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
  7. It appears that a lot of other sources list the combined magnitude, not the individual magnitude. Currently, a lot of wiki pages on stars list different brightness rankings than other sources do (like Procyon and this page), which is confusing. Additionally, some of the pages in other languages (German, Dutch) list the combined magnitude. Dberard (talk) 06:23, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  8. That is what I would expect, as a reader. I also expect to be informed when it happens to be a multi-star system. I'd bet it is possible to make a list mainly sorted by (system) visual magnitude, while allowing to see/sort by individual star. - Nabla (talk) 22:12, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
  9. As long as we can clearly mark the binary systems in the table, this makes sense.  — daranzt ] 05:12, 15 February 2013 (UTC)


  1. That you can't split them unaided does not mean the apparent magnitute of the star is incorrect, apparent magnitude still makes sense because we have decoupled it from the unaided human eye long ago. It's very useful for understanding objects, say, if we know their distance. You may want to remake the page so it's for unaided eye stars, which makes sense for brightest stars, but the current reasoning I can't follow. Hekerui (talk) 15:02, 22 January 2013 (UTC)


  • Defining it as stars splittable by naked eye as two stars and others as single entries seems eminently prudent to me. Casliber (talk · contribs) 06:40, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Yes, if this is successful, I agree that we should have some notation to denote component stars' position. Casliber (talk · contribs) 06:08, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Spectroscopic binaries should not be split. Naked-eye splittable ones should be listed separately. -- (talk) 07:09, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
  • I don't think there are any on the list (Mizar A is part of Mizar A/B which is splittable in a telescope - what we'd have in that case is (essentially) Mizar A/B on this list which is splittable from Alcor by the naked eye...Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:29, 25 January 2013 (UTC)


I am closing this discussion as requested on WP:AN. Consensus is clear on the "support" side. The second-to-last commenter made a good point about what readers expect to find here. I didn't understand the point the opposer was trying to make. If there's any work to be done to bring this article into compliance with this decision, someone else will have to do that work, as I am not an expert on astronomy. Chutznik (talk) 02:57, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Proper name

I see that a 'proper name' has recently been changed but what exactly does this term mean. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:20, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't mean the Bayer designation, but some traditional name (usually Arabic) that has been given to the star. Note for some stars these are seldom used and the Bayer designation is much more popular (e.g. Alpha Centauri) Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 12:48, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
In what way is this name the 'proper' name for the star and who decides this? Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:35, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
As it is the column 'Proper name' is pure OR. There are no references and no description of what the term means. I suggest that the column is removed until the data can be verified properly. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:29, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
No it is not OR, it is unreferenced. If you were familiar with stars you'd know this was a pretty bog-standard list. Wikipedia didn't come up with the term "Proper name" - will get some refs anon. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:16, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
See here or here Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:25, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Your refs show star names but not the use of the word 'proper'. As you well know, whether you or I are familiar with stars is irrelevant, WP needs sources. Martin Hogbin (talk) 01:12, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Ok, then here, here and here (scroll up), among other places.....Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 02:24, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
I think you are rather missing my point. I do not doubt that most, if not all, of the names in the list are in common use, maybe even with astronomers, but WP has a list headed 'Proper name'. This title gives the impression that this is the definitively correct name and that other names given in the same table are, in some way, not correct. This is a fairly strong statement being made by WP and if we wish to make it we should have a reliable source stating that an appropriate authority, such as the International Astronomical Union has determined that the names in this column are the proper ones.
The sources you have found by searching Google do not meet this standard. I therefore think that, if we cannot find a really authoritative source, we should change the heading to something less official sounding, such 'common name' or just 'name'.
At the moment WP is propagating what seems to be just the opinion of one or more editors. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:48, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
The issue I think is that the term "Proper Name" has a certain connotation more akin to "Traditional name" than to what lay people would consider to be Proper or True Names or whatever. I am tempted to replace with "traditional" - will have a look....Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 12:10, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I think 'traditional' would be much better, although it does raise the question of whose tradition. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:19, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
See Proper_noun Lithopsian (talk) 12:27, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I have no expertise in this, but will note the articles Proper names (astronomy), List of proper names of stars, and List of proper names of stars in alphabetical order and the category Category:Stars with proper names, so it seems that the idea of "proper name" is widespread at WP. Star designation notes that "proper name" is a synonym for a traditional name. It seems that the International Astronomical Union would be considered the authority on star names. If we wanted an authoritative list of proper names, we would be hard pressed to find one, as tradition comes from a number of sources. The closest thing to a recent authoritative list may be a 1971 NASA document that has a list of 537 "named stars" [1] --Mark viking (talk) 12:59, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Wow, I'd never seen that before! Some interesting names on that list I have not seen elsewhere...hmmmm. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:11, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I had seen some of those articles too and this increased my concern that WP was propagating opinion as fact.
To retain the the 'proper name' I would say that we need to reference some well respected international authority. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:19, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Ah, here we go, the IAU has a guideline on the naming of stars at [2]. At the bottom of the section is a list of links that include lists of star names, such as [3], [4] and [5]. If these lists are good enough to be referenced by the IAU, they are good enough for us. From the lists, we might simply call it the "common name" --Mark viking (talk) 13:45, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
The IAU document does not give these links as in any way 'official' lists, in fact the wording tends to state the opposite, that there are no 'official' names. Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:32, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Very few of these names are in regular use. We should be cautious about promoting essentially made-up names as somehow official. It has become popular in recent years to dig up, or simply make up, some name that doesn't have numbers of greek letters in it, as part of the program of promoting astronomy to people who are scared of numbers and greek letters. Still, other than NASA press releases and BBC documentaries (and derivative sources such as Wikipedia) nobody actually refers to stars by those names beyond perhaps the brightest dozen or two. Have you ever heard anyone in real life say "Saiph"? Lithopsian (talk) 14:02, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
In this list, how about swapping the SIMBAD and 'Proper name' columns and renaming 'Proper name' to 'Other names'? Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:28, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
That's unnecessarily ambiguous. We should be able to expect people to know what a proper name is, and if not, to be able to look it up. Common name would also work, IMO, though I don't know if it's sourceable for star names. — kwami (talk) 14:54, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
This has no connection with the term 'proper noun'. It is about whether there are authoritative correct names for stars. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:04, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Or maybe it does? I have no argument with the fact that star names are proper nouns but to use the term 'Proper name' in this context is unnecessary (as they are capitalised) and confusing because it suggests that they are official names. The SIMBAD names are, of course, also proper nouns, which confuses things even further. Why do we need this column at all? As far as I can see it is only to put alternative names to the SIMBAD names in. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:27, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
wikt:proper has nothing to do with wikt:official, they are not synonyms. The term "proper name" is a term used in astronomy, that's it. Just as "goofy footed" is a term used in snowboarding, it does not mean the snowboarder's foot is disabled. -- (talk) 05:47, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I do understand that although it was not obvious to me when I first came here, just as that fact will not be clear to many other readers. The term 'Proper name' is used in some astronomical sources for what the rest of the world would just call 'Name'.
Even if we were to rename the first column 'Name', 'Traditional name', 'Astronomical name', or something else, the column would still serve no purpose and be essentially OR in the sense that, where there is more than one name for a star, it is editors here who have decided which name to put in that first column.
It would seem that there are no star names agreed by every source and that the SIMBAD list is the closest that we are going to get to an official name. Using this name as the first one is the best way forwards, mainly because it makes clear which authority specifies the name for that star. Where there are additional names, we can list them in a separate column. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:53, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
What SIMBAD chooses to be its default title can be very far from what's actually being used, especially concerning popular astronomy sources. Further "proper name" is the term used, using a different term would be OR or SYNTH. Using "name" would be wrong, since many people call the Bayer designation a "name". You can always add a footnote and link it to the proper name header ( <ref group=Note> and corresponding Template:((reflist|group=NoteTemplate:)) )-- (talk) 14:11, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Maybe, but unless we have a reliable source stating what is actually used it is the best we can do. We cannot do our own research to decide which is the most commonly used (by whom) title. That is the rules. Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:15, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
This list might help: I call them "popular" names. Ian. (talk) 15:57, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
The problem is that it is just one of many such lists, all with slight differences. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:23, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
"Popular name" won't work, there are many proper names that aren't very popular, and for many stars, their Bayer designations are the most popular name. -- (talk) 23:42, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
I think you’re confusing “common” with “popular”. I was talking of the names that are widely used in popular books, which tend not to use Bayer letters. My list is a digest of those names most commonly encountered, which I thought was what you were looking for. But, if not, let it pass. (talk) 16:29, 14 February 2014 (UTC)


There are two problems with the list as it is now. The first is the use of the term 'proper name' to mean just 'name'. Most names of individual objects are indeed proper nouns but it is not usual to use the word 'proper' when referring to them. Use of the term can easily lead to confusion amongst readers.

The more serious problem is that, in cases where a star has more than one name, one specific name is selected by editors here to be entered in that column. There seems to be no definitive correct name for all stars so we must not just pick one, even if 'everybody knows'; that is OR.

My earlier proposal, to use the SIMBAD, name has a problem with linking. Names in this column currently link to the SIMBAD site but we also want links to WP articles for stars which have then. Reorganising the table would also be quite complicated.

A simple solution, therefore, would be to rename the column 'Name(s)' and to put in it all names for that star found in sources meeting our normal reliability standards. We do not need to choose which is the 'best' or 'correct' name. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:15, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

That would confuse more than enlighten - all star have several names and every single one on this list could be sourced. The one improvement I could think of would be to add a footnote to all names that are not in common use to say exactly thus. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:03, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
In that case the question arises as to why we have picked the names that we have. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:56, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose; no convincing evidence has been presented that there is anything wrong with this list's format as it stands. The only possibility I see that might improve this is renaming "Proper name" to "Traditional name". Also, we select the name that is most commonly in usage for the name of the article, and from the proper name category here, we select the most commonly-used proper name. I don't see any problems with it at all. We obviously have links to article that have them, unlike what the proposer seems to be implying. We're also not going to put every name in the column; many stars have at least 30 different catalog designations; are you really suggesting that we need all of them? StringTheory11 (t • c) 20:00, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
I would support the change to a different heading for the column, such as 'Traditional name', but that does not relieve us of the duty to WP:verify that the specific name for a star that we have chosen meets the description in the heading. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:21, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. However, the SIMBAD entries have the name listed for all but a few stars on this list, and thus only a few stars will need to have other refs provided, such as the one I just added for Alpha Centauri. StringTheory11 (t • c) 21:06, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
But what tells us that Rigil Kent is the proper name for the star? The source is acceptable to show that Rigil Kent is a name for the star but it does not tell us that this name is preferable to 'Alpha Centauri' (note that this is not the Bayer name but a capitalised version of it and thus a proper noun). For reference "Alpha Centauri" gets 602,000 Google hits and "Rigil Kent" 47,000. This is not authoritative either but it shows the problem. Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:39, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Nobody is saying the name is preferable to Alpha Centauri. BTW, Alpha Centauri is the Bayer name, which are always capitalized. Despite being told the contrary by multiple editors here, you're still insisting that "proper name" means "most common name", which it does not. Proper name simply means a name that is not a specific catalog name, but is used for the star. For example, Rigel is a proper name, while Gamma Cassiopeiae, despite being by far the most common name for the star, is not a proper name, but a Bayer Designation. StringTheory11 (t • c) 00:15, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
The Bayer designation is α Cen. 'Alpha Centauri' is a very common proper noun used in many sources as the name of the star. In what sense is it not a proper name? How can being Bayer designation written out in the Latin alphabet disqualify it from being a proper name? Martin Hogbin (talk) 00:31, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
No, you are flat-out wrong on that point. A Bayer designation is any designation that contains a greek letter, either spelled out or not, followed by the genitive of the constellation, written out in full or not. A Bayer designation is different from a proper name. α Cen is the abbreviated Bayer designation; Alpha Centauri is the full Bayer designation. I'm normally a patient person, but you're wearing my patience. I also notice that you altered my signature on my last post, for some reason. I've fixed that. StringTheory11 (t • c) 03:12, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Sorry for mangling your sig it was just a mistake.
[This academic source] says, 'Most of the brighter stars were assigned their first systematic names by the German astronomer Johann Bayer in 1603, in his star atlas Uranometria (named after Urania, the Greek Muse of Astronomy, along with Uranus, the Greek god of the sky and heavens). Bayer assigned a lower-case Greek letter, such as alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ), etc., to each star he catalogued, combined with the Latin name of the star’s parent constellation in genitive (possessive) form'. But it really does not matter, you have not explained why 'Alpha Centauri' which is undoubtedly a proper noun when capitalised and used to refer to a specific star and is, by over a factor of ten the most commonly used name, cannot be considered a proper name. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:50, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
As a matter of interest, that 'academic source' says at the bottom of the page: "The article content of this page came from Wikipedia". So a bit of a circular argument, methinks. (talk) 17:34, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
It is not in any way circular, it just confirms that other editors here have stated that, 'Bayer assigned a lower-case Greek letter, such as alpha (α)... to each star'. Regardless of that you have still not explained why the most commonly used name when spelled out in the Latin alphabet and capitalised cannot be considered a 'proper name'. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:50, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Because the word "proper name" has a specific meaning in astronomy, namely that of a name that is not a catalog designation of some sort. Sure, Alpha Centauri may be a proper noun, like any designation for any star would be (e.g. 55 Cancri, HD 6, WR 124), but by definition it is not a proper name for the star. I do apologize for the signature comment; I should have assumed better faith there. StringTheory11 (t • c) 18:27, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I understand that you are saying that 'proper name' has a specific meaning in astronomy but you need to provide some evidence of that and exactly what it means, specifically that the term 'proper name' excludes any form of catalogue designation. It is no good just finding some sources that use the term 'proper name', you need to find an authoritative source that verifies the claim that you have just made above. It is not like the term 'proper motion' where I can easilly find academic sources that define the term as well as use it. For example [[6]], [[7]],[[8]].
With proper name, it is also easy to find reliable sources that do not use the term 'proper name' but use different terms. We can find ['name'], [name again], [Star Name]. On a quick look 'proper name is quite common, but no more so that just 'name'.
Even if you could prove that 'proper name' is the standard astronomical jargon we would be unwise to use it here, certainly without some kind of note as to what it means because this is not obvious to the general reader. Martin Hogbin (talk) 20:03, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose per StringTheory. It is not using "proper name" to mean "name", it is using "proper name" to mean "proper name". It's not just any old label the star has acquired. The use of the term "proper name" (it is a two word term, not two one word terms as you are suggesting it is) is in accordance with sources other people have already pointed out to you. And the term is used to distinguish proper names from other sorts of monikers that star acquire, in accordance with its use in the field of astronomy. This is an astronomy article, the context of terminology found in astronomy articles is astronomical, not medical, or biblical, etc. Thus the term "proper name" should be construed in an astronomical context. Further there is no implication of best name or correct name. Indeed the way the table is structured, if anything is to be implied, it is that the Bayer designation is primary, because it occurs first. And some stars have 30 or more "names", I hardly see the reason why we should list all of them in this article. The stars each have their own article for such a thing. While there is a thing to be said about "traditional name", that is a far broader and more encompassing term. Every star has a multitude of designations, the brightest ones (as would appear on this list) would at least have Bayer, Flamsteed/Gould, Henry Draper, Bright Star, Hipparcos designations, and plentiful enough folk names. WP:NOTDIC, Wikipedia is not a dictionary, suggesting we add all the names a star has acquired just to list the bloody thing is violating policy of not being an astronomical dictionary gazetteer. Further, our geographic articles don't even bother with listing all the various names geographical locations end up with, so why should we be so burdened on a simple list article that isn't even the article on that particular star? The brightest of all stars will have thousands of names from the thousands of cultures that have observed the stars over the thousands of years of civilization. -- (talk) 00:09, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
I do not understand what you mean by, '...the term is used to distinguish proper names from other sorts of monikers that star acquire' if 'there is no implication of best name or correct name'. How do we decide what name to put under proper name? How do we WP:verify that choice? Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:21, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
If you cannot WP:V by looking at WP:RS as to what those RS claim are proper names, then you've got issues with editing anything on Wikipedia, since reading the RS that explicitly states what are proper names should be bloody obvious. Per Calisber, do you know this subject at all? -- (talk) 03:31, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

That proposal was just a suggestion. There is no need to get quite so excited about your disapproval.

However there are two problems that need to be addressed. Firstly the heading 'Proper name'. On the one hand some editors here tell me that it just means that the name is a proper noun (like practically all names for individual objects) whilst others say that it is the astronomical name. If it is not clear to editors here what the term means and it was not clear to me, I can imagine that it will not be clear to many readers.

The second problem is that, whatever we decide to head the column, we have to decide which of the many possible names for each star to put in it. For each star there will be several names that could be supported by a reliable source. How do we choose? There is no single authoritative source to tell us. The only way is personal opinion or OR. Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:20, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

Many sources describe what are common and uncommonly used proper names. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 23:44, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Martin, a proper name is both a proper noun and an astronomical name, so there is no contradiction. Which proper name is the most common can easily be found, as Casliber mentions, through multiple sources. StringTheory11 (t • c) 00:15, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
We cannot easily find out which is the most common name. We first have to determine what we mean by 'common'. Do we mean in all sources, can we just count Google hits, should we only count astronomical sources (and how do we define them) or maybe we should only count only peer reviewed papers? Do we mean worldwide or just in the US or Europe or English speaking countries? Doing all that is OR and not permitted in WP, for very good reason.
I know that a proper name is a proper noun and and that the term is used in some astronomical sources. But in what sense are we using it here? Are we saying that it is the correct astronomical term for the name of a star? I have seen no source saying that this is the term most commonly used by astronomers. Even if that were to be the case it would very confusing and unnecessary WP:Jargon. We need to find a definitive source using the term 'proper name'.Martin Hogbin (talk) 00:17, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Martin are you actually familiar with this topic at all? Most people who have more than a passing interest in astronomy will know which names are used more often than others . Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 02:04, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
A few days ago I immodestly offered this list as being what he was looking for, but he waved it aside (see above). So I wondered the same thing. Ian. (talk) 14:29, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Casliber, you well know that 'Most people ... will know which names are used more often than others' is not an acceptable for verifying information in WP. In the case of Rigil Kent it is not even correct. By far the most commonly used name is 'Alpha Centauri'. That fact that this name may be considered a version of the Bayer name is irrelevant, it is the most commonly used proper noun used to refer to the star. If you want to put something different you need a source. Not a source that just shows that the name Rigil Kent is sometimes used for the star, we all know that, but an authoritative source which shows that Rigil Kent is the proper name and that Alpha Centauri is not. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:59, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
The short answer, again, is that there are no 'proper' names for stars because the IAU does not officially recognize any, unlike with constellations. The best you can do is quote those most frequently used in popular-level books. (talk) 17:34, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Exactly! Which is why we cannot have a heading 'Proper name' and then chose amongst ourselves which name or names to put in the column, which in one case at least is not the most frequently used name. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:54, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
For consistency you could simply harvest the names used in the existing Wikipedia entries on stars. For example: "Alpha Persei (Alpha Per, α Persei, α Per)... Known by the traditional names Mirfak and Algenib". Done. (talk) 18:14, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
That is more or less what I suggested. Having a heading 'Proper name' and putting just one name under it, chosen by editors here is completely against the most basic policies of WP. Martin Hogbin (talk) 12:00, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
....except that the sources often use the term "Proper Name" and so to use otherwise might be OR.....Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:16, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
PS: "Alpha Centauri" is a name but it is described as the Bayer Designation, not the Proper Name (which Rigil Kent is). James Kaler's "Brightest Stars" describes them as such (see page 260). No Bayer Designations are Proper Names. To suggest otherwise is OR - our job is to reflect knowledge and practice, not correct it. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:22, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree that some sources use the term 'proper name' but some do not and the term is not defined anywhere and is confusing to the general reader. Several editors have said that a Bayer designation cannot be a proper name but there seems to be no source to support this assertion. Have a look at page 268 of the source you cite above. 'Proper motion' is defined in the glossary but not 'Proper name'. Note also that your source calls Alpha Centauri a 'Greek name' not a Bayer designation. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:15, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

(outdent) - Martin, for crying out loud, Ian Ridpath, Jim Kaler and Patrick Moore are three authors eminently qualified to make a call on this (and don't forget NASA too!) - and all use the term "proper name". Most Peer Reviewed material will use designations that are long strings of numbers and/or letters that are unrecallable by lay-readers and not meant to be. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:29, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

And these sources: [[9]], [[10]], [[11]] some of which were supplied by you, do not use the term 'proper name'. I do not doubt that many reliable sources use the term but although several editors have told me that 'proper name' means a name that is not in a star catalogue, no one has given me any evidence of this or found any definition of the term by a reputable body. The term is not used in peer reviewed articles and it is not always the most commonly used name so what exactly is its status. It seem to me to be just a term held rather dear by some more serious amateur astronomers.
So what is the problem? Well, you said yourself, 'The issue I think is that the term "Proper Name" has a certain connotation more akin to "Traditional name" than to what lay people would consider to be Proper or True Names or whatever'. That is exactly correct; it is misleading to the general reader. If it were a well defined and universally used term like 'proper motion' we would have the justification that it is the correct terminology used by all experts in the subject but that simply is not the case with 'proper name'.
It is worse than that though. Can there be more than one proper name? Which of the many names for each star are eligible to be called 'proper names'. Are proper nouns based on Bayer designations (such as Alpha Centauri) disbarred from being called proper names? If you can show me an authoritative source that answers these questions then I could accept the term. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:18, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Proposal 2

How about a note to the heading 'Proper name' stating that this term is used in many astronomy sources, but not all, and that the term 'proper name' does not imply that a name listed is the 'correct' or 'official' or the most commonly used name? Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:20, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

That's what I was thinking too after sleeping on it. Happy to do this. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 20:31, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Do we have a consensus then? Does anyone want to propose wording for the note? Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:18, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
I made that suggestion under proposal 1's discussion. -- (talk) 03:29, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Proposal for note

'Proper name' is a term used in many, but not all, astronomical sources for the name of a star as opposed than its catalog number or coordinates. Most such names are hundreds or even thousands of years old and of ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic, or Chinese origin.[1] Inclusion of a name in this column does not imply that the name listed is the 'correct', 'official', or even the most commonly used name. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:41, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Looks ok - I'd add Bayer designation after "catalog number". Actually I'd say " a catalog number as there are many different ones. About 3/4 the names are Arabic, so that should be first, with a smattering of other languages. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 23:18, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
No problem with putting Arabic first and 'a' catalogue number. I guess that Bayer designation is OK. We can leave Rigil Kent as it is but the fact remains that the logic for your recent change, which is what brought me here, remains dubious.
'Alpha Centuari' is the most commonly used name for that star. Although it is clearly based on its Bayer designation it has become a name in it own right being much more common than any other Bayer-based name (Alpha Orionis, Alpha Boötis, Alpha Canis Majoris for example). This is probably because of the use of the name in science fiction. Since the term is so ill-defined it really could be said that 'Alpha Centauri' is a proper name.
On that subject I think that the Bayer designation article could do with some attention, it seems to contain some unsourced assertions. If WP is to maintain its respect, credibility, and authority the very worst thing we can do is to make stuff up and put in in here. I will make some small changes and await comments.
All that having been said we now have:

'Proper name' is a term used in many, but not all, astronomical sources for the name of a star as opposed to a catalogue number, its coordinates, or its Bayer designation. Most such names are hundreds or even thousands of years old and of ancient Arabic, Greek, Latin, or Chinese origin.[2] Inclusion of a name in this column does not imply that the name listed is the 'correct', 'official', or even the most commonly used name.

I am wondering whether we should take out 'but not all' as a superfluous ('many' does not imply 'all') remnant of discussion here. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:55, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
"Alpha Centauri" is clearly not a "proper name". And yes "but not all" is superfluous. You won't be able to embed a reference unless you use the Template:((#tag:Template:)) formatting, if you use <ref group=Note> tagging. I suppose you could use {{efn}}/{{notelist}} -- (talk) 03:38, 22 February 2014 (UTC), I welcome any help in dealing with the reference. I was not sure whether it could be included. You say, '"Alpha Centauri" is clearly not a "proper name"' but there is no evidence for this. The best source for that anyone has found so far for what a proper name is is the one that I have cited above. This does not make clear that 'Alpha Centauri' cannot be considered a proper name. Martin Hogbin (talk) 15:24, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Agree in removing "but not all" - I put a footnote for Rigil Kent as it is rarely used (unlike the others), though purists are a bit snobbish about "Acrux" too....Agree Bayer designation needs work - but has to be in as they amount to the default name for around most of the brighter visible stars Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 07:56, 22 February 2014 (UTC)