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Other names for this star are Suhel or Suhail. (Note that Lambda Velorum also bears the name "Suhail;" according to Allen bright stars were often given the name "Suhail" by Arab skywatchers.)

Allen offers at least two origins for "Canopus." One etymology traces the name of the star to the chief pilot of the Greek fleet in the war against Troy written of by Homer. Legend connects the city of Canopus in Egypt with the pilot and the star. The story is that Canopus' ship landed in Egypt as the Greeks sailed home after destroying Troy. King Menelaos then built a monument to the pilot at that site and named the city after him, as well as the star.

Allen thinks it more likely that the name derives from phrase in the Coptic language, Kahi Nub meaning "Golden Earth." The Coptic name would refer to the brightness of the star and its very low altitude above the horizon - less than 8° on the northern coast of Egypt.

Canopus is a yellowish F0II bright giant having 65 times the diameter of the sun and 14,000 times the luminosity.

Canopus is the second brightest star in the nighttime sky. Sirius at Visual Magnitude -1.44 is the only star exceeding Canopus in brightness.

Canopus is visible only from the southern half of the United States and there at only a very low altitude during the winter months. Burnham calls the star The Great Star of the South, and indeed, the more southerly your location, the better will you be able to see the star.

Hipparcos Identifier (HIP Number)

Harvard Revised (HR Number)


Henry Draper Catalog (HD Number)


Bonner Durchmusterung (BD Number)

CP-52 914
Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory compendium (SAO Number)

Fundamental Katalog (FK5 Number)