That incredibly bright star in the eastern evening sky is no star at all. It's Jupiter. The gas giant planet is closer to Earth than normal now, and it outshines all stars.
Jupiter is easy to find. Just go outside after sunset and look East. It is the brightest point of light up there. To Jupiter's left is the bright star Arcturus. Below Jupiter is Spica, another fairly bright star. [Sky map]
Astronomers measure brightness on an inverted scale. The dimmest stars visible are around magnitude 6.5, and very bright objects are magnitude 1 or so. Negative numbers are reserved for the brightest objects.
Some magnitudes to compare:
- Jupiter: minus 2.46
- Arcturus: minus 0.07
- Spica: plus 0.96
Starry Night software brings the universe to your desktop. Map the sky from your location, or just sit back and let the cosmos come to you.