Why can’t I see red dwarf stars with the naked eye?

The nearest star to our Sun is a red dwarf but why is it a struggle to see it?

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Red dwarf star Proxima Centauri is only 4.24 light years away but it's a challenge to see without optical aid. Image Credit: NASA

Red dwarf star Proxima Centauri is only 4.24 light years away from Earth, yet is still a challenge to see without optical aid. Image Credit: NASA

Asked by Luis Bower

Red dwarfs, which are small and relatively cool stars in comparison to our Sun, are not readily detectable by the naked eye since they have low temperatures and are low in brightness. It’s actually quite surprising that they are not so easy to detect since they make up a good three-quarters of our galaxy’s star population.

The closest red dwarf to Earth is Proxima Centauri, which rests 4.24 light years away, in the constellation Centaurus. At a magnitude of +11.05, this star is difficult to see with the naked eye and you would need an optical aid like a decent pair of binoculars or a telescope to be able to spot it.

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