Discover the 5 Closest Stars to Earth

Written by Lisa Bohler
Updated: November 15, 2023
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The five closest stars to Earth are still several light-years away.

On a clear night, the stars in the sky are so numerous that they cannot be counted.

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The sky above us is home to about 200 sextillion stars. Astronomers calculated the number of 2 trillion galaxies in the universe to arrive at that number. Each of those galaxies is home to approximately 100 billion stars. To learn more about the stars, galaxy, and universe, you could start by discovering the five closest stars to Earth.

The closest star to Earth is our sun. The sun is a yellow star, close enough to the planet to see its light in 8 minutes. Although the sun is technically the nearest star, we will not include the sun in our list of star neighbors.

1. Proxima Centauri

Proxima Centauri is 4.2465 light-years away and the closest star to Earth.

You cannot look into the night sky and pick Proxima Centauri out. The star is over four light-years away but has been identified as the closest star after the sun. This star is a red dwarf star, also known as an “M.” star. Red dwarf stars are the most common type of star. These stars have the longest life expectancy of all stars.

Planets do orbit Proxima Centauri. Proxima B was identified as a planet orbiting the star. Proxima B is a large planet with a mass that is 1.3 times greater than the mass of Earth. Speculations about possible life on Proxima B have been put to rest because the star Proxima Centauri has occasional flares. The flares are so intense that they would destroy anything on a planet orbiting the star.

2. Alpha Centauri A And B

Alpha Centauri A and B are 4 light-years away but are the third brightest stars in the sky.

Alpha Centauri A and B are the second on our list, and they are the third brightest in the night sky.

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The second-closest stars to Earth are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. These twin stars are part of a three-star system that begins with Proxima Centauri. Alpha Centauri A is also called Rigil Kentaurus, and Alpha Centauri B is called Toliman. These stars are positioned about 4.367 light-years away from Earth.

No planet orbits these stars. However, they do burn bright yellow like our sun. These two stars can be seen with the naked eye. They have been identified as the third-brightest star in the night sky. When you see them, you see both stars simultaneously, so their brightness intensifies. Discovering the five closest stars to Earth will help us better understand our planet and galaxy.

3. Barnard’s Star

The third-closest star on our list is Barnard’s Star at

Barnard’s star is similar to Proxima Centauri. They are both red dwarf stars, and they both have occasional flares. Barnard’s star is about 5.978 light-years away from Earth. This is the fastest-moving star in the sky, so it has been nicknamed “the runaway star.” Each night, this star moves 10.4″ across the sky. That does not sound like a large distance until you realize the star is traveling at 310,000 mph (500,000 km/h).

This star has existed for more than a billion years. Three planets are orbiting it. Barnard’s Star is famously referred to in books and Hollywood movies. It has been mentioned in several books and movies over the years.

4. Wolf 359

Wolf 359 is more than 5 light-years away from Mercury.

The star Wolf 359 is our fourth on the list, at only 7.795 light-years away.

©NASA images/Shutterstock.com

Wolf 359 is the fourth closest star to Earth on our list, and like Barnard’s star, it has a famous name because it is a radio drama. The podcast has been airing for four seasons. However, the Wolf 359 star is not as well-known as the podcast. The star is a red dwarf located 7.795 light-years from Earth.

Wolf 359 is located in the constellation Leo. Like Barnard’s star, Wolf 359 moves quickly, flaring occasionally like Proxima Centauri. This star is different from the others because it is fully convective. That means the heat from the center portion of the star radiates out to reach the surface areas.

5. Lalande 21185

The last on our list is Lalande 21185, 8.307 light-years away from Earth.

Lalande 21185 is the fifth star on our list. This star is located in the constellation of Ursa Major and is 8.037 light-years away from Earth. Like most other stars named in the list, Lalande 21185 is a red dwarf. It is one of the brightest red dwarf stars. Even with the extra brightness, the star is too dim to be seen by the naked eye.

Lalande is small and dim, but it stands out because it has a planet similar to Earth and one similar to Neptune orbiting it. Of course, a planet similar to Earth is too hot for living things to inhabit. There are expectations of discovering a third planet orbiting Lalande 21185 when more powerful telescopes are available.

Summary of The 5 Stars Closest to Earth

Star NameDistance From EarthClassificationConstellation
Proxima Centauri4.2465 light-years Red DwarfCentaurus
Alpha Centauri k4.367 light-yearsK1Centaurus
Barnard’s Star5.978 light-yearsRed DwarfOphiuchus
Wolf 3597.795 light-yearsRed DwarfLeo
Lalande 211858.307 light-yearsRed DwarfUrsa Major

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Who is Danny/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Lisa Bohler is a writer for A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Lisa has been writing and researching animals for over 12 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Creative Writing from Liberty University, which she earned in 2021. A resident of Texas, Lisa enjoys fishing, gardening, and caring for the animals on her small hobby farm.

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