Space is vast. And we are very small. Distance in the eternal void is measured in Light Years (ly) - the distance that light has been calculated to travel in the precise time it takes our merely minor microscopic planet to orbit the sun but once - that is, a year. Light travels at approximately 186,000 miles per second - which works out to 5,865,696,000,000 or about six trillion miles. This also crunches up, rather handily, to be about 10 trillion km (just barely longer than this section). Thus the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, at 4.3 light years (or a little over 25 trillion miles away) is a nice easy to figure out 43 Tkm. When those pesky Europeans bring the metric system to outer space - they'll be the ones with most of their hair still, for lack of scratching their heads, trying to figure out just how far they've come, and how far there is left to go. If there still is an America by then, perhaps a new flag design will be in order (50 standard stars works out to, um, about 83 and a third metric stars).
The brightest star in our sky, Sirius, is also relatively close at almost 9 light years - or something over 50 trillion miles away. Actually traveling at the speed of light, however, involves something to do with time, so there's no one publicly telling yet how long it would take for you to actually get there, if you did. In fact, if you went fast enough, in theory, you could go back to a time (and quaint, nostalgic era) when these two otherwise innocent looking stars were actually much closer together - thereby bringing into question why you actually bothered to begin your journey in the first place, and making you look a little silly, actually.
Of the 300 some odd stars assembled here for your galactic gratitude, we have intended and been somewhat successful in paying extra special attention to their various distances from us - and thus hath hence divided up the local neighborhood into a few different ranges for your own personal cognitive exploration. Think of them as ever increasing solar central spheres, or incremental generations of possible potential exploration - if yer into such things, if all goes well. A blithe banana for all the math geeks out there: in our calculative assembly, we have noticed that a certain number of numbers appear quite frequently. One can only imagine, from the statistical data collected, that these are round figures - but who are we to argue with the natural order of the things, such shapes being seemingly prevalent in the universe anyways?
As it turns out, as far as our sources are concerned, stars that are within relative arms reach, under 15 light years from us, have had their respective distances rounded off to the nearest tenth of a light year (as if that makes any difference to us right now). Most of the rest fall comfortably into singly digital time warp zones. Distances over a hundred ly are rounded off to the nearest 5; over a thousand, to the nearest 50; and over a 2500, to the nearest 100, etc. Stars further away from that are not usually visible at all to the notoriously free spirited naked eye observers - nor are they likely to have cool names like Miaplacidus or Zavijava (as far as we know). Also, it is likely largely assumed by most mainstream melodramaticians that it probably wont matter exactly how far away something that far away is for at least the next few technological renaissances or so.
Insofar as this matters to you: stars that are unreasonably close to us have had their distances highlighted in larger and brighter text - inversely proportional, and therefore casually complementary to their estimated distance, incrementally, in cautious categories for stellar ranges of under 25, under 50, and under 100 light years away (beyond that, youre on your own as far as appreciating the difference between, say, 120 and 1200). This is meant and designated to especially alert you to their persistent local presence, if not their very existence - as it is our whim, desire and mischievous intent that you should be aware of those civilizations who have been, as so much, at least aware of you for many millennia.
In danger of stressing something too much, let it be known to all who continue reading this, that, the Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years across - so, something that is a mind boggling 10,000 light years away from us would be right around the corner, just next to the coffee shop, half a dozen ursa claws, dont forget my double mocha, you should know this my now, theres a dear, keep the change - as far as the rest of the Galaxy is concerned. And to make dark matters further apparent by quoting a distressingly accurate latter day Monty Python, "out by us its just 3000 light years wide." Ah, life in the suburbs. The next hub of civilization lit up for our nocturnal perception, the Andromeda Galaxy, is 2.2 million light years away - or, at least thats where it was 2.2 million lite years ago. Just imagine where it might be today. As for what lies in between, scientists have speculated only sparingly.
In addition to all this talk of distance, some stars appear to us to be grouped with others, but in fact are not. The stars of Orion, for example: virtually none of them are in anything like what is commonly considered to be anywhere near to pretty close proximity to each other - yet it is one of the most recognized star patterns in our sky. While this constellation appears pretty much the same for many light years around us (thats how far away they are, and intrinsically bright as well), the stars of Ursa Major, or The Big Dipper, are a more authentic association - and likely possess a common gaseous void type origin. Some stars are authentic actual Orbital Binary material however, having faint companions - as if instead of several gas giants, like we have, all that stardust stuff collaborated to form a single smaller star. The Alpha Centauri system is a prime example: consisting of two Main Sequence stars (one Yellow and one slightly more Orange), very much like and of possible common or at least similar origin to our own sun - the happy couple being orbited by a groovy little Red Dwarf dubbed Proxima (meaning closest), brings the tally up to three stars for the price of one. Sirius, the Dog Star, is a such schizophrenic sun. Its White Dwarf companion in relatively close 50 year orbital proximity, nicknamed The Pup, was not discovered to be so pair annoyed until the late 1950s - although the most ancient Dogon tribe of Africa has legends going back at least hundreds of years, concerning this star and its near invisible offspring (they also knew Jupiter has moons, go figure). This priceless information is said to have been entrusted to them by gods descending from the sky (go figure some more). To find the truth, the Dog Star and the Dogon Star (as a pair), as well as the Alpha Centauri System (as a trine), will be visited by Spacedog at his earliest convenience.
Also not to be undersold is the intrinsically interesting phenomenon of Eclipsing Binaries, where the stars do frequently pass in front of one another, thus giving away their orbital collaboration. Other stars appear to have similar outcroppings, but these tinier points of light are actually completely different stars, much further away. These "Line of Sight" or Observational, or Optical Binaries are imagined to be extremely common in galaxies like our very own, and are custom designed for each star systems very own unique perspective. For example: Cih, Gamma Cassiopeiae (located at approximately 60° North, 1 hour) is exactly on the opposite side of our sky from Mimosa, Beta Crucis, in the Southern Cross (situated about 60° South, 13 hours). From either stars perspective, the other would appear at first naked eye glance to be in close enough proximity to our sun Sol - but Cih is 780 light years away (to the north of us, and slightly thataway) and Mimosa is 425 light years away in almost the exact opposite other direction. Three stars lining up in almost a straight line together is not particularly considered by Spacedog to be a vast alien conspiracy - but you know, you never know.