Glossary term: Names of Stars

Also known as Star names

Description: Stars have been given different names by many different cultures over time. Most of these names are for bright stars visible with the naked eye.

Most faint stars do not have names and are referred to either by a number or Greek letter followed by the constellation they belong to, or by a catalog number or coordinate. Variable stars are commonly referred to by two Latin letters followed by the name of their constellation.

A small number of fainter stars have been named after the astronomer who first observed that star or who led an important study of it.

Stars can often have multiple names from different cultures as well as names based on catalogs or their constellation.

Stars in multiple systems have an uppercase Latin letter at the end of their name to distinguish them from stars in the same system. Exoplanets have lowercase Latin letters added to the end of the name of their host star.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the official body for assigning naming designations to celestial bodies and their surface features. The IAU has so far promoted two international public campaigns called NameExoWorlds, the first one in 2015 and the second one in 2019, resulting in exoplanets and their stars officially named after popular names suggested by the public and recognized by the IAU.

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Term and definition status: This term and its definition have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".