This is my annual update to my movie of the proper motion of Barnard's Star. It now spans 10 years (10 animation frames) from 2007 to 2016 (July). Nothing much has changed but for its location keeps moving north. For those looking to find it visually the arrowhead asterism to the south seen in the full frame image which is about a half degree wide and a third of a degree high (field the asterism is much smaller). The field fits a medium power telescope field of view. The galaxy near the bottom of the image is CGCG 056-003, a 15.6 magnitude galaxy some 360 million light-years distant and 85,000 light-years across.
Barnard's Star is the second closest star system to us after the Alpha Centauri system at a distance of 5.96 or 5.98 light-years depending on who you believe. It has the highest proper motion of any known star by quite a margin. It moves about 10.3 seconds of arc per year. That means it is moving at about 90.5 km/s across our line of sight. But it is moving even faster toward us at a speed of about 106.8 to 110.8 km/s depending again on who you believe. This gives it a velocity of about 140 km/s relative to the sun. That sucker is really moving so is sometimes called Barnard's Runaway Star. This means it will be closer to us than Proxima Centauri is now but then Proxima is moving toward us as well. In the year 11,800 Barnard's Star will be as close to us as it will get at 3.75 light-years but Proxima will be very slightly closer. Proxima will be slow to give up its place as our closest star after the sun but some 33,000 years from now it will have to give the honor to ROSS 248 at about 3 light-years. In about 40,000 years it will give up closest honors to Gliese 245. Then about 50,000 years from now Alpha Centauri itself will be the closest star. Actually for about 5,000 prior to Ross 248 being closest it will be so close to the same distance as Proxima that it depends on who you believe as to which of these two stars is closest.
Barnard's star is a very typical old red dwarf at least 8 billion years old and it could be as much as 12 billion years old. Being old it rotates slowly having lost much of its rotational speed of its youth, now taking 150 days to rotate. Young red stars usually have severe flares likely frying any habitable planets. Old stars like Barnard's are thought to rotate so slowly they no longer flare but Barnard's star did send up a strong flare in 1998 surprising many.
The number of frames and exposure times of the frames varied greatly over the years. Some was due to weather but mostly just because I was trying to find a way to match previous years more closely. That seemed to always fail so this year I just used my standard four 10 minute luminance exposure times and 2 10 minute frames for each color. I just added this frame to the animation from 2015 (and this text is mostly from 2015). The animation is at 1" per pixel but doesn't begin to go as deep as I usually do because some of the years used only 2 minute subs and less than 10 minutes of total time and most of the others were adjusted to match. In 2014 I didn't try to fully match past years and this year I sort of matched 2014 but left it slightly brighter.
Note that below Barnard's star in this year's image there is a tight trio of stars. Some years it was hidden behind the glare of Barnard's star but for all years the bottom star was seen it was the dimmest. Not this year, it is the brightest! I don't know if it is processing or real. Short of reprocessing all 10 years I just can't tell if processing is involved somehow. Looking at the FITS from prior years it seems always the dimmest until this year. It may have flared during one or more of the years it was hidden from view. This image was taken July 9 UT. At least the luminance was. Color had been taken previous nights under less suitable conditions including moonlight. But with prior years available for color balance that wasn't a problem.
I've been asked in the past for an annotated image of the background galaxies. Many have no redshift. Still I gave in this time and made one but you won't find it very useful. Only 5 galaxies have redshift information, one of which I've already mentioned. The other 4 seem to be part of a galaxy group but I found none listed at NED. I've identified all NED lists in my image, most don't even have a magnitude estimate let alone a redshift measurement.
14" LX200R @ f/10, L=4x10' RGB=2x10', STL-11000XM, Paramount ME
10 year animation