An aspect of astronomy which is very exciting is the handful of stars which have been found to be characterized with very
high proper motion. To be more specific, the position of stars is virtually identical from century to century (let alone,
year to year!) and, yet, a very small number of these stars show dramatic motion across the sky when observed from year
to year. This rapid motion which is easily identified using parallax techniques strongly suggests that these stars are
very close to our sun and solar system with distances often being less than ten light years (many galaxies, for example,
are hundreds of thousands of light years away). The most dramatic of these stars is Barnard's Star which has a proper
motion slightly in excess of ten arc-seconds per year (!), is estimated to be approximately 5.94 light years away and is
currently passing through the constellation of Ophiuchus. Other examples of interest include Wolf 359 (4.70" per year,
Leo), Lalande 21185 (4.80", UMa) and Lacaille 9352 (6.90", PsA). The most recent discovery (2002) is Teegardner's Star
in the constellation of Aries where preliminary estimates suggest a proper motion of 5.05" per year with a distance of
approximately eight light years from the sun.
Note: The star now commonly referred to as Barnard's Star was discovered by EE Barnard to have a high proper motion when comparing plates between 1894 and 1916 and which is moving in an almost perfectly north direction. Lying at a distance of 5.94 light-years away and given its movement of approximately 134.4 km per second, it is expected to be less than four light-years away in approximately 800 years when its apparent motion will more than double to 25 arc-secs per year. Being a (dim) red dwarf, Barnard's Star has attracted a lot of attention by exoplanet hunting teams owing, in part, to its perturbed nature.
The second image below is from the Digital Sky Survey and involving the POSS I (Palomar Observatory Sky Survey) red plate from the 1950's for the same field of view as the first image and which helps illustrate the high proper motion of Barnard's Star during the past sixty years and which has travelled the equivalent of over 10 arc-minutes or one-third the apparent diameter of the full moon during this period.
Note: Barnard's publication from 1916 entitled "A small star with large proper-motion" describing this runaway stellar wonder is available here.
Please click on the image below to display in higher resolution (1200 x 950)
V* V2500 Oph
LFT 1385, HIP 87937
RA / Dec:
17h 57m 48s /
04° 41' 36"
0.0004 x Sun
0.17 x Sun
0.15-0.20 x Sun
10.29 " / yr
June 11-12, 2010
22:45 - 01:00 UT+3
AP 160/f7.5 Starfire EDF
AP 1200GTO GEM
SBIG LRGB filters
1.17" per pixel