How Far Are The Nearest Stars?
How Far Are The Nearest Stars?

Hi everyone, welcome back to Cody’s lab. So you might have seen those scale models of the solar system where somebody takes a football field and they mark out where all the planets are. Well I want to try doing something similar today but include the nearest stars to the sun. So, like, Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri, those stars like that. So I’ve got a bag here with some stars and planets, a tape measure – let’s go set it up. So we’ve come here to the Grantsville high school football field and we’re going to start the scale model here. For the Sun, I’m going to be using a pea. The reason I’m going to be using a pea is because the Sun, from our perspective here on the Earth appears to be about the same size as a pea held at arm’s length. So, I can almost exactly block out the Sun’s light using a pea held at arm’s length. Or more accurately, a 7mm wide pea held at 70cm away. As it turns out the pea held at arm’s length is also the right size to completely cover the disc of the Moon. Likewise, the Moon is the right size to cover the disc of the Sun. This is how we get total solar eclipses. The Moon is much smaller than the Sun, but is also quite a lot closer although much larger and farther away than the pea. So, set this on my little card here. So here’s our 7mm wide sun. Now keep in mind that in real life the Sun is 800,000 miles or 1,300,000 km wide. So in this scale the Earth would be 2.3 feet or 70 cm from the Sun. So you might notice that the Earth and the Moon here are actually too small to be noticeable on this scale. So we’ll use a magnifying lens to zoom in, you can see there are indeed dots there. That’s the Earth and the Moon, and the distance between them, 240,000 miles is about one quarter of the diameter of the Sun. That distance, which only takes light 1.3 seconds to travel, is the farthest any human has ever been. So before I continue I want to mention real quick how I know these distances. Now from the orbital period of Venus, and the Earth, and Kepler’s laws, we knew that the ratio was about three quarters of the way. We didn’t know an actual number, until we could observe a Venus transit. And then from viewing the Venus transit from two different positions on the Earth that are widely spaced, we could see the parallax shift of Venus relative to the sun. And from that, we could do some geometry and trigonometry, and figure out the exact distance between the Earth and the Sun. Once we found out the astronomical unit (AU), we could use that to get another parallax shift between the nearest stars and some really distant stars to figure out how far they were. This measurement was actually a linchpin in science in figuring out how big the solar system and the rest of the universe was. OK, so the next object I’m going to put on this scale is Jupiter which here is represented by a poppy seed. That’s approximately the size it needs to be relative to the Sun, if the Sun was a pea. So at this scale Jupiter will be about 4 meters from the sun, or 12.8 feet. And 12… 12.8, right there. So that’s where Jupiter is. So the next object I’m going to put on this scale is Pluto. Everybody’s favorite minor planet. Now of course on this scale, it’s also a dot that’s too small to really see on camera but it will be 97 feet, or 30 meters from the Sun. Right about here. So around 97 feet from our pea sun, is the tiny speck of Pluto where the New Horizons probe just passed. The next object I’m going to put on this scale is the Voyager I probe which is currently the farthest man-made object away from the Earth. Gonna have to go out kind of a ways for this one. Right here, 317 feet (96.6 meters) from the Sun if the Sun was a pea. That is almost all the way across the football field here. Now even at this scale, to mark where the nearest star is, we’re going to have to leave town. Did I say leave town? I meant leave the state. We’re here just outside of Downey, Idaho, right across the street from Downata hot springs and here’s where Proxima Centauri, the closest star would be located on our scale. If the Sun was a pea, Proxima would be a radish seed. 202 kilometers or 125 miles away. Proxima B, the nearest known exoplanet to our own solar system would be a tiny speck right there about 3.5 cm from Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star, it’s very dim so in order to be in the habitable zone Proxima B has to be quite a lot closer than the Earth is to the sun. This also means Proxima Centauri is too dim to be visible in our night sky. At least, to the naked eye. Of course, to get to the nearest visible star, we’ve got a little while longer to go. So we’re now just on the other side of Downey, Idaho, just a little ways up the road, really and I have here Alpha Centauri. The nearest sun-like star to our own. It is actually slightly larger, so it’s represented here by a slightly larger pea. Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest stars in the sky. It is certainly visible from the Earth. It seems kind of crazy that something this small could be visible from so far away but you’ve got to remember that stars are incredibly bright for their size. In fact if this thing was shining, it would outdo an arc welder. What’s kind of cool about this demonstration is in order to block the starlight from Alpha Centauri exactly, you know, block it out so you can see if there’s any planets around it, so that the glare’s not blinding your telescope you would have to hold this pea 208 km (129,2 miles) away. In fact if you wanted to do that, you would really need to have a much larger disc you know, something larger than the diameter of the aperture of your telescope and then you’d have to hold it even farther away. Anyway, Alpha Centauri is not alone. In fact it’s part of a double star system. 25 and a quarter feet away, or about 7.7 meters, is Beta Centauri
[correction: Alpha Centauri B] A star which is slightly smaller than our Sun, so is represented here by a slightly smaller pea. These two stars we know are orbiting each other cause we can actually watch them rotating around a central point. Proxima Centauri is kind of far away for us to be certain that it is gravitationally bound to the system so we’re not entirely sure if it is a three-star system. But that is fairly close in stellar terms so it’s likely that Proxima is part of this system. So there you have it: the nearest stars to us, other than the sun. Kinda gives you an idea of just how big space is. At this scale we were traveling the length of our entire solar system every couple of seconds for the last three hours to get here. The stuff in space is just crazy far, in fact there’s a video in the description that kinda describes how far away it is. It’s the theme song to the 365 days of astronomy podcast that I listened to a few years ago and rather enjoyed. I’m sure you guys will bring up the Breakthrough Starshot project that aims to get spacecraft to these nearest stars within 20 years or so. Well, it’s not impossible, but you can see the challenges they’re facing. I really hope they’re able to do it because I’d love to be able to see these stars from this close up for real. And if you guys want to know about some other close stars, there’s Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, which would be about the size of a marble such as this. But it would be about this much farther away and in a different direction, so I didn’t really want to drive that far today. And Betelgeuse, the star that Ford Prefect is from near the vicinity of, is a red supergiant which would be about the size of a car. And in order to position it on this scale you would have to put it somewhere on the east coast of the United States. And that is assuming you started off by travelling west. Betelgeuse is around 30-40,000 km (18-25,000 miles) away on this scale. In real life it’s 640-ish light years off. That’s kind of how far we’re dealing with here and Betelgeuse is quite bright. You would probably have trouble seeing the Sun from more than 100 light years away. The Sun is after all just an average sized star, an average distance from other stars in an enormous cluster of stars called the galaxy which we’re only able to see about 1% of. But with the aid of telescopes we can see billions more galaxies in our observable universe. Anyway, hope you enjoyed, I’ll see you next time.

100 thoughts on “How Far Are The Nearest Stars?”

  1. Alessandro Guarda says:

    What's about that "High Valley chemical and laboratory supply" flashing in at 4.33?

  2. Mark Joseph says:

    Did yu travel a straight line away from sun

  3. Mark Joseph says:

    How about amdromeda galaxy

  4. Mark Joseph says:

    Can yu make andromeda. The nearest galaxy to milky way

  5. Mark Joseph says:

    I enjoyed it really. Make also a model for the speed of light at that scale.

  6. Mark Joseph says:

    So how long did it take yu to arrive at proxima?

  7. Mark Joseph says:

    You forgot to make model also for the spped of lyt. Because it would taje 4 yrs to reach the proxima

  8. ProCeLLx says:

    that distance between the earth and the moon relative to the sun freaked me out…that’s the furthest distance we have travelled in space 🤔…not far at all…

  9. ZxP Vybz says:

    Some guy drove 1500km for this

  10. B T says:

    Well atleast he didnt have to drive to Spain.

  11. bilboman1 says:

    oh, no ….looks like one of those star peas burnt a hole in your shirt.

  12. SpiritualOpportunism says:


  13. SpiritualOpportunism says:

    Your positive energy is like a star, immense.

  14. Monster High Bites says:

    But the size and distance from the sun,,
    Could be created given the odds..
    Hey its said there the same size in the book
    Dude infanate distance at 10 i couldent put and end to it ..
    Put a wall whats behind it? Brick forever?

  15. Monster High Bites says:

    Infinity is God
    What has been made known
    So they have no excuse,,

  16. Monster High Bites says:

    Eternal God

  17. Monster High Bites says:

    Everything we discover is playing with his leggo

  18. Aaron E says:

    Ok; that's it: I am going to change my vacation Destiny to the next star to a closer place!

  19. Kari Greyd says:

    We live in the sicks of the milky way lmfao

  20. DanTorbz says:

    Whos here from Dallasmed??

  21. ScuttleFische says:

    um, actually, our star is brighter than 90% of other stars. It's not just an average star.

  22. Ls Chua says:

    China movie Wandering Earth said need travel 2000 years 100 generation to reach another star.

  23. Zeke Edwards says:

    Did he say betelguese would be the size of a cock?

  24. goodbi99 says:

    Guess I'll change my travel plans.

  25. Muasies Moses says:

    Praud of u bro tq frm Malaysia..need to get intouch with you bro

  26. Thomas Partida says:

    Love this, thanks for the hard work, it is greatly appreciated.

  27. 3 piece soda says:

    Now think about how big God is!

  28. flexx says:

    Just imaging that by the time your eyes see a star it's actually seeing something that had happened millions of years ago. Thats mind boggling.


    and this is the nearest lol 😅😅😅😅

  30. Chubbicat says:

    At that scale Cody would be traveling faster than light 🙂

  31. Thomas Thomas says:

    Arachnids from Starship Troopers are very close to Alpha Centauri !

  32. a b says:

    Don’t worry about nearest star, worry about nearest human needs your help.

  33. keith stone says:

    I thought he was going to dig up some dirt and create a star

  34. WahapinmyMilo says:

    Great I get to go through my speil again: If you floor your 9 second quarter mile dragster (1g acc).. for 380 days going away from Earth until you hit the speed of light traveling away from Earth (the center of the sun is a better reference point) THEN.. you rotate around 180° and put the brakes on (1g) for ANOTHER 380 days till you are stopped in comparison with the sun (760 days) you are still maybe only 1/2 to 2/3 the way to Alpha Centari. A much more comprehendable fathomable analogy.

  35. Gaz says:

    We still have people that believe the Earth was created in 7 days by an invisible god only 6000 years ago. Our species really has got a long long way to go before we can conquer the enormity of the Cosmos.

  36. Keith Lyles says:

    I call bullshit you have made up numbers and no truthful material facts, just look at this guys shirt from monkeys to man more bullshit, if this were true where are those missing links that are in between, why is it just the monkey and the man that are alive, come on people think

  37. Boost Boost says:

    Ask the average young person about the Universe, they will ask what is that and when does it come on? Before dancing with Stars or after? No interest and 99.999999 have no clue…

  38. Just Bad says:

    Astronauts: we are arriving at alpha Centauri.
    Me: what did it cost?
    Astronauts: everything.

  39. Our Fantasy Life says:

    Until he said “that’s the furthest any human has ever been”, it never struck me…I literally never thought about it that way. We have explored approximately none of our universe.

  40. swimdeep 1 says:

    Can anyone answer this question.,'What is the difference between Nothing and Nowhere'.
    I love this question and I know the answer, Cheers Paul.

  41. Adam Fry says:

    This video was so awesome, just makes you realize how small we are, and the fact that we can even question these distances is just amazing. Definitely earned yourself a sub my dude

  42. jinxy72able says:

    I wonder how far away from the sun the Ort cloud would be on your scale Cody?

  43. Thomas Anslow says:

    Your head is going to fall off when you realise the earth is not round.

    How can you know all this stuff but not understand the surface of water is flat. If its flat by definition it can not have a curve. The oceans are flat now curved.

    Don't shoot the messenger.

    Prove me wrong Cody……

  44. kevin a says:

    Why are alpha and proximal centauri so much closer to each other than the Sun is to any star? That's not fair lol

  45. J Barry says:

    After all that driving and going out of state…remember that's the NEAREST star. Wow.

  46. Amber Smith says:

    Hey Cody with all this Flat Earth stuff going around you ought to prove curvature in a testable provable repeatable way that anybody can do you know like a laser about 3 miles out it should be about six foot the curvature in between make sure you do it on days where there's not that isn't too much lensing effect to scare your results

  47. Harish Katewa says:

    Great calculations and great video sir

  48. Frank Tedder says:

    So are there many, if any, planets between us and proxima B?

    Also, does that mean around alpha centauri and alpha centauri B, there's a tatooine like planet with two visible sun's?

  49. Jon C says:

    I doubt were going to the stars ever, if we survive the sun's transition to red giant, we'll just have to find a way to move further away to keep within a habitable zone, and use tech, matter, and energy to feed, fuel, and shield us, lol.

  50. triscurtis says:

    "At this scale, we were travelling the entire length of our solar system every couple of seconds, for three hours, to get to Proxima."

  51. leonxl says:

    Now do one on the distances of galaxies

  52. Thunder Zenny says:

    This is just truely incredible, the distance is just so far that I am incredibly speechless. Now just imagine doing the same scale as you did in this video to measure how far the observable universe is.

  53. Jimbo says:

    My conclusion: We will never reach another star system in person. Each star system is a universe of itself. I feel a bit sad now. 🙁

  54. Big Game James says:

    That’s mind boggling distance. How far would stars be apart at the hub? And speaking of the hub, if all we can see is the stars in the yellow circle, does that mean that all those Milky Way photos which purport to show the position of the hub are actually just nearby stars within the circle?

  55. Daniel Sonntag says:

    Thank you for the perspective!! Crazy! But your example made sense in my brain… Before it exploded.

  56. Fucky Yout says:

    Im on my to beetle juice ill be back in 5 min

  57. Fucky Yout says:

    Thats how fast i can go on coffee

  58. Hassan Radwan says:


  59. Arispil says:

    The shirt is good

  60. sandeep sharma says:

    Thank god if this guy have chosen basketball for sun then he almost traveled in my country in Asia

  61. Andy D G says:

    Well done!

  62. alarupala ́s Satire says:

    The Earth is Flat.

  63. Gutmensch TV says:

    Are Alpha Centauri and Proxima in the Alpha or Beta Quadrant???

  64. Joel Paschall says:

    If the sun was the size of a white blood cell, the galaxy would be about the size of the entire continental United States. And that’s just the Milky Way. There are BILLIONS of galaxy’s like the Milky Way, some way bigger, some way smaller, but almost all of them are thousands of galaxy lengths apart. Space is incomprehensibly vast.

  65. The Engine says:

    Awesome video!!!!!!

  66. MooMoo Math and Science says:

    Thanks for the helpful video.

  67. Felipe Ruiz says:

    And all The starts we can see with a bare eye are inside the Milky Way ………

  68. Nate Vaughan says:

    The absurdity of humans (remember, earth is a tiny dot and the sun is a pea) being able to see Alpha Centauri, or any other star, from earth at this scale is dumbfounding, regardless of brightness of the star. I'm in Denver and can't see someone welding in Albuquerque. And in that example our sizes would be 1:1.
    THINK about it.

    Wake up everybody, lies are abound.

  69. Rosolino Lo Sciuto says:

    Libera l'artista la luce ha intelligenza artificiale

  70. Ruben Aguilera says:

    Hasta allá podremos llegar para gritar: , Que chingue a su madre el America.

  71. Donald Christie says:

    So, time to stop thinking we are going to live on another planet.

  72. Wukeyrio Kv says:

    4:39 speed 2x

  73. Stayflat Media 7 says:

    Hahahaha bahahaha hahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  74. Adam Robert Misiura says:

    10:06 To be specific; we can see stars only from our galaxy and the rest of "stars" on the night sky are other galaxies?

  75. Lishin Sam says:

    Now, how far would be the Andromeda galaxy?

  76. Zve Moxes says:

    Great video, I liked it and am commenting solely because he didn't tell us to like the video…the last non-annoying youtuber?

  77. toby hart says:

    Great video but he should have put a little atom on the ground to represent the Sun and then a little nothing to represent the Earth so he would not have to drive so far to the nearest star.

  78. DovahkiinPL says:

    Kękę? Xd

  79. איציק יצחקוב says:

    Police should arrest you

  80. Gladys Aguas says:

    i've watched a different video that's somewhat similar to this – showing the distance between the Sun and the nearest star/proxima centauri… it only travelled about 30km.. but this one travelled 200km.. i got confused which one is more accurate

  81. Reihenwandler Europa says:

    Neil Armstrong is proud of you. Chuck Norris will do it 1to1

  82. Multiverse Mila says:

    Wow 10mins of you driving

  83. CrniWuk says:

    No clue what the problem here is. He took his car and reached the nearest star.

  84. Mahesh Samp says:

    Ladies & gentlemen, from 4.19 is what Goku sees during instant transmission

  85. Go to Hell says:

    The size get bigger when it is hold near your eye

  86. Chiaro Scuro says:

    Over a thousand idiots down-voted this video. Willful ignorance I guess.

  87. Mandy Ronald says:

    Would rather watch Star wars than daring the distance

  88. Ricksonkimura says:

    So we are seeing a pea sized object to scale 125 miles away? How can this be?

  89. Awais Ahmed says:

    But the earth is flat!!!!

  90. John M. says:

    And our global telescopes can pick up this shit ? Hmmm

  91. John Smith Globe Lie says:

    All you have is models and word of mouth from people who have never been to space and your presentation bares no relation to reality.

  92. James Tucker says:

    😂 Spaceballs 🌍 🖕

  93. The MK8Master341 says:

    Imagine if this video was demonitized.

  94. Shawn Statzer says:

    Superb! I am trying to wrap my head around the voluminousness of the universe enveloping us. "We are the universe looking back at itself."

  95. thedange91113 says:

    Look a know it all

  96. Pat TheHombre says:

    Hold on , hold it right there…. ah need more popcorn.

  97. Mike Cronis says:

    Humans have been further than the moon, but died about 1/3rd the distance to the moon, then traveled (dead) much further. Ask Russia.

  98. 100,000,000 subscribers without any videos says:

    What if there is life in that Star System and they are seeing our solar system wondering if there is life there

  99. Di Wu says:

    and how far are the farthest stars? … do you need to leave the Earth?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *