Barnard's Star in Ophiuchus
Barnard’s Runaway Star
The stars in the night sky seem never to move as they relate to one another. The Great
Bear, Leo the Lion and Orion the hunter all look the same throughout one’s lifetime.
Individual stars appear not to move in their familiar constellations. But, each star does
have its own specific motion through space (Proper Motion). It is just that they are too
far away for us to notice.
Of all the stars, Barnard’s Star, a dim Red-Dwarf that shines only 1/2500th as bright as
our sun, shows the greatest movement of any star. Barnard’s star is moving through
space at 166 kilometers per second and (most important) it is very close to us (6 light
years). Only one other star-system is closer to us (Alpha Centauri) at 4.4 light years.
Because of its speed and closeness, it is called the Runaway Star. Moving almost due
north at 1-degree every 351 years, it still takes a few years to notice any movement. I
have been watching Barnard’s Star since the mid-1960s when I first drew it with my
60mm Monolux Refractor. The movement of Barnard’s Star shows nicely in my
astronomy notes over the pass five-plus decades.