An x-ray image of the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri
Click on image for star map
NASA/CXC/SAO

Proxima Centauri - Closest Star to the Sun

What's in a Name: Proxima means "closest" because it is currently the closest star to the sun.
Claim to Fame: The nearest member of a triple star system which is the closest system to the sun.
Type of Star: Red dwarf star on the main sequence with surface temperature as low as 3300 K.
How Far Away: 4.2 light years away
How Big: 0.07 times the sun's radius. If put Proxima at the location of our sun, could just barely make out the disk.
How Bright: 18,000 times fainter than the sun
Where to View: Located in the constellation Centaurus, the Centaur (Star Map)
When to View: Centaurus is never in the sky viewed from middle northern latitudes (around 40 degrees). As you travel south on the Earth's surface and pass below the equator, you will definitely see it from time to time.

Last modified January 25, 2006 by Travis Metcalfe.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Gamma Ray Bursts - The Most Powerful Objects in the Universe?

In the 1960's, the United States launched some satellites to look for very high energy light, called Gamma Rays. Gamma Rays are produced whenever a nuclear bomb explodes. The satellites found many bursts...more

Galaxies

During the early 1900's, which is not very long ago, astronomers were unaware that there were other galaxies outside our own Milky Way Galaxy. When they saw a small fuzzy patch in the sky through their...more

Neutron Stars

Neutron Stars are the end point of a massive star's life. When a really massive star runs out of nuclear fuel in its core the core begins to collapse under gravity. When the core collapses the entire star...more

Spiral Galaxies

Spiral galaxies may remind you of a pinwheel. They are rotating disks of mostly hydrogen gas, dust and stars. Through a telescope or binoculars, the bright nucleus of the galaxy may be visible but the...more

White Dwarfs

When stars like our own sun die they will become white dwarfs. As a star like our sun is running out of fuel in its core it begins to bloat into a red giant. This will happen to our sun in 5 Billion years....more

Algol

What's in a Name: Arabic for "head of the demon" Claim to Fame: Represents Medusa's eye in Perseus. A special variable star that "winks" every 3 days. Type of Star: Blue-white Main Sequence Star, and...more

Sirius B - Bizarre White Dwarf Companion of Sirius A

What's in a Name: Nicknamed the "Pup" because it is the companion to Sirius, "the Dog Star" Claim to Fame: Highly compressed white dwarf remnant. Density about 50,000 times that of water. It has approximately...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA