Finding Earth's Nearest Stars

Below is a map of the nearest stars to Earth in our galaxy followed by a few points of explanation including a list of the stars featured in the map. You can also buy this map as a print for inspiration at home or work.

Map of the nearest stars to Earth in our galaxy

Map Explained

Diagram explaining astronical unit

Where is Earth?

Earth isn't visible in the diagram above because the scale is too large to show 1 Astronomical Unit (the distance between Earth and the Sun). There are 63,241.1 AU’s in 1 light-year which means that the Earth is actually hidden well within the yellow circle used to symbolise the Sun.

Diagram explaining astronical unit

Orientation

To understand this diagram, try to imagine you are looking towards the Sun from a great distance (beyond 12 light-years). The stars surrounding the Sun have been plotted using their angular position from the celestial equator which is actually the Earth’s Equator projected onto the night’s sky.

Diagram explaining astronical unit

Scale

The measurements in the scale above are for distances parallel to the declination plane. However, none of the featured stars are exactly on this plane, and as a result, distances appear shortened. For example, Ross 248 might seem closer to the Sun than Luhman 16, but it is actually 3.8 light-years farther away!

Diagram explaining astronical unit

Perspective

It is worth noting that the stars closer to the viewing point have been increased in size. So stars that are farther away, beyond the Sun for example, will appear smaller. This is not an accurate depiction of the featured star’s size, just a useful guide for their position in space.

Diagram explaining astronical unit

Star Systems

Many of these stars are actually binary star systems, meaning they are multiple stars orbiting each other. The universe is full of such star systems. For example, Alpha Centauri actually consists of two stars; Alpha Centauri A and B. However, when viewed from Earth, they appear to be one and have been mapped as such.

Star List

1. The Sun

0.00001581 light-years away (or 1AU)

2. Proxima Centauri

4.2 light-years away

3. Alpha Centauri

4.4 light-years away

4. Barnard’s Star

5.9 light-years away

5. Luhman 16

6.5 light-years away

6. WISE 0855−0714

7.3 light-years away

7. Wolf 359

7.8 light-years away

8. Lalande 21185

8.3 light-years away

9. Sirius

8.6 light-years away

10. Gliese 65

8.7 light-years away

11. Ross 154

9.7 light-years away

12. Ross 248

10.3 light-years away

stars in our galaxy design print for sale

Finding Earth's Nearest Stars, A3 Poster, Gold Foil

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Credits and references

This map is an artists impression made using data and information gathered using various sources and tools. For this particular map the information I needed was the distance of stars in light-years, the Right Ascension and Declination angles using the Equatorial Coordinate System. This map was designed in mid 2018, as with everything in science new discoveries are made all the time and the star list may at somepoint become out of date. Here are some of the tools I used: SIMBAD Astronomical Database, Wikipedia, Sky Guide app and ESA Gaia Data,

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