What is the nearest star?

Of course, the nearest star to Earth is the one we see every day — our dear old Sun. At a mere 93 million miles distant, it takes light from the Sun only eight minutes to arrive on Earth, shining through your bedroom window at dawn and on sunbathers on the French Riviera.

Several stars lie within a few light-years of the Sun. At a distance of just over four light-years, the three members of Alpha Centauri, including Proxima Centauri, are the nearest stars to Earth. The next three closest stars are red dwarfs: Barnard’s Star is six light-years from Earth. Wolf 359 and Lalande 21185 are about eight light-years distant.

The brightest star in Earth’s night sky is Sirius, 8.7 light-years away. The binary system called Procyon is a bit farther at 11.2 light-years.

The search for extrasolar planets might take us to Epsilon Eridani or Tau Ceti, Sun-like stars at 10.8 and 11.8 light-years away. Rounding out the stellar neighborhood at a distance of about 11 light-years are Epsilon Indi and the binary system 61 Cygni.

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