What’s the 3rd brightest ever recorded object in the sky?

For example Venus is normally the 3rd brightest object in the sky.

However there have been the occasional comet or Supernova that have outshone it.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The iridium satellite flares are often brighter than Venus $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ Might want to add the clarification of "natural objects" When Irdium flares were still happening, I'd routinely go out and watch them when Heavens Above predicted one would be visible at magnitude -7 or brighter from my location. $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


The brightest star-like object is probably Supernova SN 1006.

With object before the time of modern photographic techniques, one is dependent on descriptions, and these can be hard to interpret when they are written in 1000 years ago (and in Chinese). However this was probably between -7 and -8 in magnitude, much brighter than Venus (but not as bright as the moon)

Now comets can be brighter, the comet of 1882 was estimated to have reached -17 (!), but at that time it was very close to the sun, (but still a visible daytime object) But by the time it moved away from the sun to dark skies it was dimmer (around 0 magnitude), and as a diffuse object, it's light was spread out over a large part of the sky, so not really comparable with a star or even a planet.

Of course events like fireballs can be brighter still. The Chelyabinsk fireball was "brighter than the sun", and the Tungunska one would surely have been much brighter yet!


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .