This dim red dwarf star is the second closest to
Sol (our Sun) after Alpha Centauri. It is
located about 6 light years away, in the
northernmost part of the constellation Ophiuchus
(the Serpent Holder), just west of Cebalrai
(or Kelb al Rai).
However, like other red dwarfs, it is not visible to
the naked eye, with a visual magnitude of 9.56.
The star was named after its discoverer, noted
astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard (1857 - 1923),
who first spotted it in 1916. He also noted that
the star has the largest known proper motion
(motion across the sky) of all
known stars (10.3 arcseconds per year).
This high apparent speed is the result of its
proximity to Sol as well as its actual speed of travel
through interstellar space. In fact, Barnard's Star
is approaching Sol quite rapidly, at 140 kilometers
per second (87 miles per second) and will get as close as
3.8 light years in less than 10,000 years.