Astronomers measure distances to the stars in terms of light years, units that combine time and distance. One light year is the distance light travels in one year; so if you look at a star ten light years from Earth, the light you see from it left ten years ago and is therefore ten years old.
To see starlight that’s your age—or the age of a friend or family member—use the table below. When you’ve found the star whose light is the right age, you can:
- Copy its name and paste it into our star chart to find its location in the sky. If it’s a bright star, you might try to find it by printing the star chart, making a red-light, night-vision flashlight, and heading outside. If it’s dim, you may need a telescope. Try going to a star party or public observatory and ask the astronomers to show it to you. (Visit our Local Societies page to find local amateur astronomers.)
- Find out more about it by going to STARS—a web site by an astronomer devoted to the bright stars.