• Question: How far away is the sun?

    Asked by FinleyJ on 29 Jun 2020.
    • Photo: Aisling Ryan

      Aisling Ryan answered on 29 Jun 2020:


      Hi Finley! I wouldn’t know this off the top of my head. I googled it and had a quick read through a few different sources which all say that it varies between 147 million km and 152 million kilometres throughout the year. The distance can vary slightly throughout the year due to the fact that Earth doesn’t travel around the sun in a perfect circle and so will sometimes be slightly closer and sometimes slightly further away. The closest the Sun is to Earth during the year is 147.1 million km, and the furthest is 152.1 million km. Apparently the Earth is closest to the Sun during winter in the northern hemisphere.

      You can find more fun facts about the history of finding the distance here: https://www.space.com/17081-how-far-is-earth-from-the-sun.html 🙂
      Here is an information sheet from NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/k-4/features/F_Measuring_the_Distance_Student_Pages.html 🙂

    • Photo: Ry Cutter

      Ry Cutter answered on 29 Jun 2020: last edited 29 Jun 2020 5:48 pm


      Just to add to Aisling’s answer.
      This distance is called an Astronomical Unit (AU for short), we use this scale a lot when talking about planets in both our own and other Solar systems. A cool fact I like to share is that 1AU is about 8 light minutes. Which is the distance light travels over 8 minutes. A way to think about it. If anything happens on the Sun we won’t know on Earth for 8 minutes!

      Great Question,
      Ry

    • Photo: Giorgio Bindoni

      Giorgio Bindoni answered on 30 Jun 2020:


      Hi Finley. The earth’s orbit around the sun is an ellipse, therefore there are two notable points: one where the earth is closest to the sun and the other where the earth is farthest from the sun. the former, called “perihelion” is about 147 million kilometres; the latter, called “Aphelion” is about 152 million kilometres. Nice to know is the fact that, in the northern hemisphere, the Aphelion occurs in summer and the perihelion in winter. this could seem a contradiction, but it depends from the fact that the earth axis is tilted by 23 degrees and 27 minutes and during the aphelion the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun.
      Cheers,
      Giorgio

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