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Proxima Centauri

Alpha Centauri C

Proper NamesProxima, Proxima Centauri
Bayer DesignationAlpha Centauri C
Flamsteed NumberNone
BSCNone
HDNone
ConstellationCentaurus
Right Ascension14h 29m 43s
Declination-62° 40' 46"
Distance4.2 light years
1.3 parsecs
MagnitudeApparent: +11.0
Absolute: +15.5
Spectral ClassM5 Red Dwarf
Optimum VisibilityMay (Not visible to the naked eye)
Proxima Centauri

The sky around faint Proxima Centauri is dominated by two stars: the yellow and orange dwarf stars that lie at the heart of the Alpha Centauri system. Just a fifth of a light year distant, they shine with a magnitude approaching -7, far brighter than Venus ever appears from Earth.

Location of Proxima Centauri

Though it is nearer to Earth than any other star, Proxima Centauri is a tiny star that shines with a feeble red light, and is quite invisble to the naked eye.

Relative Galactic Position of Proxima Centauri

The Galactic position and direction of Proxima Centauri relative to Earth's Sun. Note that, at this extreme scale, the two stars are effectively in the same place.

Strictly an outlying member of the Alpha Centauri system, rather than an independent star, Proxima is a faint and inoffensive red dwarf. It is remarkable, though, as the Sun's nearest stellar neighbour, just 4.24 light years away. The relative motions of the two stars mean that Proxima and the Sun are actually getting closer together at a rate of about 16,000 m/s.

Proxima against the Milky Way

If humans ever travel beyond the Solar System, this will surely be one of the first sights they experience - the faint red-orange glow of the Sun's nearest neighbour, Proxima Centauri, against the backdrop of the Milky Way.

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