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Counting stars and an empirical formula for estimating the number of stars in an area

In a planetarium program you have to control how many stars you display. So if you display 1000 stars in an area of one square degree, up to which magnitude you have to plot? This value lies close to magnitude 15.  Below an modern star count table and empirical formula valid from magnitude 0 up to magnitude 16. It is based on counting the number of stars in the combined Tycho-2 and UCAC4 star catalogue using a HNSKY tool.

Table 1,  number of stars in the combined Tycho-2 and UCAC4 star catalogue:

_____________
Star magnitude
Total number of Tycho-2 or UCAC4 stars up to this magnitude
ln(degree2/star) Star density in stars/degree2
0 3 9.529 0.000072722
1 14 7.988 0.000339369
2 55 6.620 0.001333236
3 191 5.375 0.004629966
4 558 4.303 0.013526289
5 1744 3.164 0.042275713
6 5326 2.047 0.129105762
7 16503 0.916 0.400043633
8 48559 -0.163 1.177102271
9 139375 -1.217 3.378542167
10 382925 -2.228 9.282355223
11 1048084 -3.235 25.40624924
12 2955951 -4.272 71.65420697
13 7346735 -5.182 178.0897147
14 17214116 -6.034 417.2815553
15 39387795 -6.861 954.7861974
16 88896114 -7.675 2154.900589
The remainder of the 113 million UCAC4 stars are fainter then magnitude 16

So up to magnitude 10,  there are average 8.48 stars (=8 stars) in an area of one degree2. Simply calculated by dividing the total number of stars up to magnitude 10 equals 349741 by the area of the whole sky which is 41253 degree2.

In Excel graph below, the natural log of the area available for each star is plotted against the required limiting magnitude (blue line). It is pretty linear up to to magnitude 16. Using Excel a trend line and polynomial was determined. So the limiting star magnitude y:= 0.0128x2 - 0.9547x + 7.8866  , where "x" is is the natural logarithm of the number of stars divided by the total sky area of 41253 degree2. The star density is therefore average but in practice is varies in which direction you are looking. In direction of the milky way the star density is higher



The above table also indicates how many stars you can observe.

Date: 2016-9-26
email:i Han