SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animated model of the positions of the twenty closest stars to our Sun (at centre). All of these stars are found within twelve light years of our Solar System. However, most of them are faint dwarf stars, and only seven of these stars are visible with the naked eye. Those stars that are visible include the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius (Alpha Canis Majoris), at 8.6 light years. The closest star system to the Sun is Alpha Centauri, at 4.3 light years. This is a triple star system, consisting of the Sun-like stars Alpha Centauri A, B and C. Alpha Centauri C is also known as Proxima Centauri, as it is the closest star to the Sun, at just 4.24 light years. It appears to the naked eye as a single star, the third-brightest in the night sky. The other prominent star is Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris), the seventh-brightest star, which lies 11.5 light years from the Sun. The other visible stars are not prominent in the night sky. They are Epsilon Eridani, 61 Cygni, Epsilon Indi and Tau Ceti.
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