What's a light year in the distance
Perhaps you will be spending this spring weekend somewhere in the country - far away from the light of the cities. The moon will reach its new moon phase in just a few days. The nights are particularly dark now because its light does not interfere. In this darkness the stars shine like diamonds. They seem so close and yet are so far. Our star, the sun, is on average 150 million kilometers away from us. Light races through space at a speed of almost 300,000 kilometers per second. It therefore takes a little more than eight minutes to travel from the sun to the earth. The closest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, is over a quarter of a million times farther away from us than the Sun - that is, more than four light years. A light year is the distance that light travels in one year. The fastest probes currently launched from Earth would take more than 75,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri. What about other stars that are now twinkling in the night sky? Sirius - the brightest star of the night - stands deep in the southwest at sunset. It's just under nine light years away from us. About 70 light years separate us from Regulus in the constellation Leo. And to the blue-white Rigel, the brightest star in the constellation Orion, it is even more than 800 light years. It is around 50 million times further to him than to the sun. The most distant stars that can still be seen with the naked eye are the stars of the Andromeda Galaxy. We can still see the common light of their many stars over a distance of 2 ¼ million light years.
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