View Full Version : Annual Barnard's Star Animation -- now spanning 10 years

2016-Jul-15, 09:37 PM
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.

2016 image:
14" LX200R @ f/10, L=4x10' RGB=2x10', STL-11000XM, Paramount ME


2016-Jul-15, 09:52 PM
I was there for year nine update too!

2016-Jul-16, 09:18 AM
Many thanks for that work and for sharing it, it is the gif I force my friends to watch,

2016-Jul-16, 03:59 PM
Excellent! I am teaching an astronomy course at CU-Boulder this summer, and we just covered Barnard's star. I'll show them this on Monday.

2016-Jul-16, 10:05 PM
Another animation of mine you might find useful to the class is of Comet Swan covering 30 minutes of time in minute frames back on 10/28/06. It shows both that a comet's tail doesn't point behind its motion (across it in this case) and also shows gasses flowing down the gas tail. Also seen is the various small gas tails pinching off at the over exposed core. About 2 hours after the animation ends (it went behind my chimney) the tail disconnected. I don't know if this pinching is related or not but it appears the pinch would have been at maximum about the time of the tail disconnect.


2016-Jul-19, 10:44 PM
Very cool! This class is about stars and galaxies, but I'll keep this in mind for next time I teach general astronomy.

2016-Jul-23, 06:08 PM
Keep up the good work!

2016-Aug-26, 03:58 PM
I know you've commented in the past that it's disheartening that the Barnard's star animation (which was relatively easy to put together) gets all the adulation, while others that were much more challenging and time consuming to process have received little. So, out of curiosity, what are some of the ones that you've done that you are most proud of?

2016-Aug-27, 05:54 PM
With Proxima in the news so much now--drat--Southern Hemisphere.

2016-Aug-29, 08:25 PM
I know you've commented in the past that it's disheartening that the Barnard's star animation (which was relatively easy to put together) gets all the adulation, while others that were much more challenging and time consuming to process have received little. So, out of curiosity, what are some of the ones that you've done that you are most proud of?

Sorry to be so long responding. I don't monitor this forum much.

Considering it takes me only 10 or 15 minutes to process a new year's frame for this animation and most everything else I've done takes many hours to pull out a reasonable image I guess the quick answer is everything else. This site used to have lots of top imagers posting here but after many issues, since corrected, drove them away before the correction it gets only a few beginner posts now. Also many of my old posts were lost due to their issues so I have to resort to posts made to other forums to list some of the more challenging things I've done. I don't know but you may need to join in order to see some of these links.

Most everything I do is beyond what most amateurs try for. I've taken over 1500 different objects with nearly 1000 of them being things virtually no other amateur as even attempted that I'm aware of or only tried after I showed it possible with amateur gear.

Here are a few examples:

Planetary nebula (https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthread.php?150181-Imaging-the-quot-impossible-quot-for-amateur- gear) in M31. Many take globulars in M31 but few try for much fainter and smaller planetary nebulae there.

23rd and 24th magnitude gravitational arcs (https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthread.php?76573-Gravitational-lensed-galaxies-Part-2-with-ID) created by dark matter in galaxy clusters in front of far more distant galaxies.

In the mid 60's Arp found a "jet" in the galaxy he cataloged as Arp 192 (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/238395-arp-192-time-to-rewrite-the-book-on-this-one/). No one could explain it. I helped by showing it wasn't really real in the first place.

An eagle eyed amateur spotted a previously unknown planetary nebula (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/441446-li1-a-new-planetary-nebula-announced-last-week/) in one of my images that I should have caught (can't win them all).

I recently found a faint dwarf galaxy (http://www.spacebanter.com/showthread.php?t=216031) that had been overlooked all these years. It is now on the agenda of the Keck telescopes in late December as well as the 6 meter Russian scope for early spring study.

Resolving star clusters in M31 such as C179 (http://www.spacebanter.com/showthread.php?t=153057) and a very high resolution image of NGC 206 (http://www.prairieastronomyclub.org/astrophotos/NGC0206L8X10X1RGB2X10X2R.JPG) used in the Volume 1 of "Annals of the Deep Sky".

In 2010 there was a HST image of P/2010 A2 which was first thought to be a new comet but turned out to be the debris of two asteroids smashing into each other. Imaging it (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/258139-asteroid-smash/) was one of my most difficult challenges. I know of no other amateur that even attempted it let alone succeeded.

I took Hanny's Voorwerp (http://www.cloudynights.com/uploads/monthly_01_2015/post-40734-0-69382000-1422216533.jpg) less than a week after its discovery was announced. Last I talked to Hanny it was still the only amateur image of it she's received (a couple years ago) even though it is easily within amateur range. I've also imaged other voorwerpjes that have been since discovered much fainter than the original. Example 1 (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/502974-can-amateurs-image-voorwerpjes-yes/) Example 2 (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/508530-ugc-11185-two-colliding-galaxies-one-with-voorwerpjes/) Example 3 (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/514006-ngc-5252-with-voorwerpjes)

Sometimes animations are better than still images. An example is gas flowing down the tail of Comet Swan 2006 (http://www.prairieastronomyclub.org/astrophotos/SWAN_10-28-06_0104UT_3X1_B3X3Large.gif). Note also the pinching of the streamers where they merge with the overexposed coma. Two hours after this 30 minute animation was made and it had set the tail disconnected. Was this pinching part of the process?

Near earth astroids are high speed targets most can't track but I can. An example is 22 meter in diameter 2014 KH39 (http://www.prairieastronomyclub.org/astrophotos/2014KH39.wmv) moving about 1.5" of arc per second of time. Each frame is one minute long. Just seeing something that small at a distance of just beyond the moon's orbit is difficult enough then add tracking on such a faint object. Fortunately computers make it rather easy.

I could list hundred's more but this gives a taste of what I do when not doing very basic stuff like Barnard's Star.


2016-Sep-01, 07:00 PM
What a good question and what an incredibly awesome list!! If you can think of more i for one would love to see some, great stuff.

2016-Sep-02, 01:25 AM
I can think of about 1000 more. Many were posted here but due to issues with the site a lot of them, especially older ones have vanished. Same with SpaceBanter (http://www.spacebanter.com/forumdisplay.php?f=25) but to a lesser extent. Still you should find hundreds there to page through.


2016-Sep-02, 09:37 PM
Thank you for what you do.

2019-Jan-12, 09:17 PM
I wonder if you may have caught the planet--were the images to be enchanced.