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Barnards Star
(2014-10-19 20:07)

About this Object

Barnard's star is the fourth-closest star from Earth, the closest star observable from the northern hemisphere, and the star with the highest known proper motion (angular velocity) of any star observed from the Solar System. This is a low-mass red dwarf star located just under six light-years from Earth. Despite its proximity, its apparent magnitude of 9.54 renders it too dim to be seen with the unaided eye. American astronomer E.E. Barnard first imaged this star in 1888, but did not discover its proper motion of 10.3 arcseconds per year until 1913. This rate translates to an apparent motion of 1/4 degree, or 1/2 the diameter of the full Moon during a human lifetime. Compared to the Solar System's nearly circular orbit about the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and within the galactic plane, Barnard's star is moving perpendicular to the galactic plane. This path will bring it to within 3.5 light years from the Solar System in about 10,000 years. Thereafter it will forever recede from our neighborhood, depart the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy, and never be seen by us again. The mass and size of Barnard's Star more readily compares to Jupiter than the Sun. While Barnard's Star is only 1.5 times larger than Jupiter, it 150 times more massive. It's surface temperature, however, at about 3100 degrees Kelvin is about half the Sun's surface temperature.

About this Image

A "Scope Out Next Month" reader asked me to "photo the nearest star and tell us about it," so that's what this image is about. After a busy, cloudy summer kept me away from my hobby, this was a great opportunity to brush up my telescoping and photography skills. This "noisy" image is a single exposure with little post-capture processing. Since Barnard's Star is a red dwarf, it is not surprising that it appears reddish in this image. In the 1960's Barnard's Star was located just to the left of the wishbone asterism located in the lower right of the frame. Imagery and observing guides on the Web depict its motion over various periods of time. For anyone interested in gaining a sense of what it takes to positively identify a star at the telescope eyepiece or in imagery, try relating the stars in my image to some of these images found on the Web. Hint: the other images could be a different rotations (rotated 90 or 180 degrees, for example), and/or the telescope and optical path used in the other images could result in a mirror image and/or an image that is flipped top to bottom.

--- Date/Time ---
Local: 2014-10-19 20:07:31
UTC: 2014-10-20 01:07:31

--- Location ---
The Ashton Observatory at Johnson Farms, Ashton MD
(Latitude N39.15°, Longitude W77.01°, Elevation 510')

--- Conditions ---
Temperature: 53° Dew Point: 44° Humidity: 48% Wind: 3mph Medium seeing

--- Optics ---
Televue NP101is 101mm f/5.35 Refractor

--- Camera ---
Canon EOS 60Da

--- Exposure ---
Qty 1 25-second ISO 1600

--- Post-Processing ---

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