# What visible star is closest to the ecliptic?

If we were to project the ecliptic out as an infinite plane, what visible star (besides the sun) would lie closest to it?

Regulus ($\alpha$ Leo) is the one to beat, with ecliptic latitude $\beta$ = +0.46$^\circ$ and apparent V magnitude +1.4. Some dimmer stars are closer to the ecliptic, e.g. $\alpha$ Lib ($\beta$=+0.33$^\circ$, V=+2.7), $\delta$ Gem ($\beta$=-0.18$^\circ$, V=+3.5), and $\delta$ Cnc ($\beta$=+0.08$^\circ$, V=+3.9). For more suggestions, poke around in Stellarium with the Ecliptic turned on.

If you want linear distance from the ecliptic plane, multiply the distance from us by $\sin \beta$.

HIP 76880 = $\kappa$ Librae (V=4.72) has an Ecliptic latitude of -0.019 degrees.

This is the winner amongst all stars in the Hipparco/Tycho catalogue with a Hipparcos magnitude <6.

If you mean physical distance, rather than angular distance, then the sine of the ecliptic latitude must be multiplied by a distance estimate for the star. This cannot be conclusive, the distances to many naked eye stars are very uncertain, a small fraction of Hipparcos parallaxes are too uncertain to be useful in this regard. However, from those with decent parallaxes then HIP 3765 = HD 4628 (V=5.72) has an absolute distance of 0.036 pc above the ecliptic plane.

• $\gamma^2$ Nor ecliptic latitude is -28.3 degrees. May 7, 2016 at 20:42
• @MikeG Aaaargh, I put in Galactic coords! May 7, 2016 at 22:17
• Now fixed (I hope). May 7, 2016 at 23:06