Stellar Closeup






Sky Maps

Alpha Centauri

Mouse cursor over Sky Map shows star labels. Cursor over the green "focus" marker reveals "distance view," where larger stars are closer. (Browser must allow scripts or be Javascript enabled to view these details. Sky Map view from "Stars in the NeighborHood" software.)

 
Sky Position:
When you move your mouse cursor over the Sky Map, at left, you can see that Alpha Centauri is far south and west of Scorpius, and thus not visible from locations north of the tropics.

Hover mouse cursor over "distance view" scale to change from parsecs to light years.

Looking back toward our own sun and planetary system, with Cassiopeia and Perseus in the background. (Sky Map view from "Stars in the NeighborHood" software)

  Alien Skies™:
The view from Alpha Centauri toward our own home shows Sol between Cassiopeia and Perseus. Just beyond our sun lays the ancient sun Eta Cassiopeiae. A nominal estimate of its age places it nearly four billion years older than our own sun, and about the same age as Alpha Centauri. At close to the same distance, Mu Cassiopeiae is actually an intruder, passing through the disk of the galaxy from the ancient and metal-poor, galactic "halo."

Also in the field of view is Upsilon Andromedae, discovered to have at least three planets.

View of Orion from Alpha Centauri. ( Sky Map view from "Stars in the NeighborHood" software)

  Alien Skies™:
The constellation of Orion is still largely recognizable. The shield, however, is distorted by the apparent movement of nearby Pi3 Orionis. Also, nearby Sirius has taken a seat on the shoulder of the great hunter.

Proxima Centauri is only a 5th magnitude star even from the core of the Alpha Centauri system.

A controversial claim was made about Omega Eridani — that it harbors a black hole. If the claim proves true, that could make its invisible companion the closest black hole to Earth.