Anything above 10,000 is good however, I am only interested in the brightest ones seen from earth.
Any simple projects for collaboration between astrophysicist and robotics student?
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The Hipparcos and Tycho catalogues contain almost all the brightest stars in the sky. The catalogues contain a magnitude so they can be sorted into brightness order.
One thing to be aware of is that there are a handful of very bright stars that are missing from the Hipparcos catalogue (for technical reasons that their parallaxes could not be measured), but you can easily fill these in by cross-matching against the Yale Bright Star catalogue, which contains about 9100 stars brighter than about $V=6.5$ mag.