NASA’s New Horizons mission has traveled so far that it now has a unique view of the closest stars . So much so that it has sent us, for the first time, images of the sky from so far away that some stars appear to be in different positions than we would see from Earth .
New Horizons was about 7 billion kilometers from Earth , where a radio signal, traveling at the speed of light, needed just under 6 hours and 30 minutes to arrive.
On April 22-23, the spacecraft turned its long-range telescopic camera into a pair of the "closest" stars, Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359. According to Alan Stern , New Horizons principal investigator of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI ) in Boulder, Colorado:
It’s fair to say that New Horizons is looking at an alien sky, different from what we see from Earth. And that has allowed us to do something that has never been accomplished before: see the closest stars visibly displaced in the sky from the positions we see them on Earth.
According to Tod Lauer , a member of the New Horizons science team:
The New Horizons experiment provides the largest parallax baseline ever created, and is the first demonstration of easily observable stellar parallax.
Complementary images of Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359 were provided by Las Cumbres Observatory, operating a remote telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.