Canopus is located in the constellation Carina (lat. Carinae) and is the brightest star in the night sky after Sirius. Although Canopus is still very young, it is approaching the end of its life and will explode as a supernova in a few million years. Canopus is a supergiant and is many times larger and more massive than the Sun.
Facts about Canopus
Canopus is also known as "Alpha Carinae", because it is the brightest star of the constellation Carinae. In total Canopus is 65 times as large and has 8 times the mass of the Sun. Its visible brightness is -0.72 mag and its absolute brightness -5.53 mag. In comparison Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky has a visible brightness of -1 mag.
The distance from Canopus to Earth was determined to be 326 light years. Therefore, its luminosity is remarkable: It shines about 14,000 times brighter than the Sun! Therefore Canopus is classified in the extraordinary spectral class F0. Because of its yellow-white luminosity, it is often called the "yellow-white giant". The temperature of Canopus is assumed to be 7,500 Kelvin on its surface. In comparison: The temperature of the sun is only 5,700 Kelvin.
Visibility of the star
Canopus lies near the south pole of the ecliptic. Therefore it can only be admired from the southernmost part of Europe (e.g. Cyprus, Malta, Crete). In most areas of the southern hemisphere it is possible to see it with the naked eye thanks to its brightness. Due to its position in space and its strong luminosity, it serves as a guide star for many spacecraft.