Questions regarding the amount of space between two objects, the units, or measurement thereof.

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21
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2answers
729 views

What is a parsec and how is it measured?

Astronomical units of measurement are mostly pretty straight-forward: Astronomical Units refer to the mean Earth-Sun distance (~150 million km or 93 million miles) Light years are the distance light ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is the Eagle Nebula so “static”?

This, of course, is a newbie question, as I am nothing more than a hobbyist. But I was quite surprised to see the recently-released "before and after" pictures of the so-called "Pillars of Creation" ...
18
votes
1answer
761 views

How distances are measured in the Solar System, in the Galaxy, and in the Universe?

Distances in our universe can be calculated in several ways: Stellar Parallax Standard Candles Redshift How are these methods linked, and how they are actually used to calculate distances are ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

Is the light we see from stars extremely old?

Our nearest star Proxima Centauri is 4.243 light years away from Earth. Does that mean we are seeing light that is 4.243 years old everyday?
14
votes
2answers
8k views

What is the distance that the Moon travels during one orbit around the Earth?

Also, does it always take the same amount of time, or does it fractionally differ on each revolution?
12
votes
2answers
654 views

How often do stars pass close (~1ly) to the Sun?

Interstellar exchange of massive objects is difficult across several light years. But as the stars orbit the galaxy the distances between them change. I don't find data for neighbor star distances ...
11
votes
1answer
317 views

If we count Avogadro's Number of stars that are closest to Earth, how big that space would be?

I posted this as a question to Scientific Imagination (Area 51 proposal) a while ago. And it was suggested that this question "is perfectly acceptable on Astronomy SE", since "it's about stellar ...
11
votes
3answers
415 views

Calculate Distance To Stars

I was just watching a lecture from Carl Sagan. He talked about figuring out the distance to the stars; it got me interested in learning more about the subject. As far as I know, the Inverse square ...
10
votes
2answers
520 views

How does angular resolution of a telescope translate to its parallax precision?

We can often read in the scientific and also more casual reader literature and articles about the angular resolution of various telescopes and other optical equipment, be it ground based or onboard ...
9
votes
2answers
677 views

Why is the observable Universe larger than its age would suggest?

The age of the Universe is estimated at 13.8 billion years, and current theory states nothing can exceed the speed of light, which can lead to the incorrect conclusion that the universe can't have a ...
9
votes
2answers
108 views

Present distances between planet. How can I find them?

It's "commonly known" how distant are our solar system planets from Sun. But we can't easily say that about planets, which distances can differ greatly, without some observations (or simulations, ...
9
votes
1answer
192 views

Which is the closest exoplanet to Earth?

The closest star to Earth (after the Sun) is well-known: Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light years away. But what about the closest exoplanet to Earth, outside of the Solar System?
9
votes
1answer
274 views

How would parallax affect an object at 200-1000 AU (for example, the 9th planet)?

We know from this question that an object is hypothesized to be at between 200-1000 AU that is large enough to detect, known now as the 9th planet. It should move about 40 arcseconds per year. It ...
9
votes
2answers
178 views

Is the diameter of the observable universe a relative quantity?

The diameter of my observable universe is 90 billion ly measured in proper distance. But isn't lenght a relative quantity in the theory of Relativity? Could an observer moving at a different velocity ...
8
votes
1answer
77 views

Do we make predictions in our time, or local time?

I was scrolling idly through the Wikipedia article on Orion when I read: Orion will still be recognizable long after most of the other constellations—composed of relatively nearby stars—have ...
8
votes
1answer
790 views

How do people measure the distance between the earth and the moon?

How do people measure the distance between the earth and the moon? What methods were used? Where can I find the official data?
8
votes
1answer
69 views

How to find the distance between two quasars

I want to calculate the distance between two quasars of which I know the angular position and the red shift. Let $Q_1=(\alpha_1,\delta_1, z_1)$ and $Q_2=(\alpha 2,\delta 2, z_2)$ and suppose $z_2 > ...
7
votes
4answers
468 views

Are the stars in constellation located in a plane or they are in different distances

Are the stars in constellation located in a plane or they are in different distances from each other and when we observe them from the Earth we think they are all in a plane?
7
votes
2answers
180 views

Find distance from star to star?

How do you find the distance from a star/planet/black hole to another? I know people can calculate the distance from Earth to a star, but what about from one to another?
7
votes
1answer
198 views

Why has Moving Cluster Method been successful only for Hyades?

At all places where I have read of Moving Cluster Method for measuring distance to a cluster and once applied myself on data, I have been told that the method has been successfully applied only to ...
6
votes
1answer
395 views

When we say a galaxy is 200 million light years away, does this account for the expansion of space in the time it took it's light to reach us?

When we see a distant galaxy, the light we are watching started it's journey millions of years ago. In all that time, space has been expanding, so if the initial distance was A, right now the distance ...
6
votes
1answer
329 views

How far apart can two people watch the moon simultaneously?

Obviously there's a limited part of earths surface where the moon is visible at any given time. I imagine the area of this surface would be a lot smaller than the area where the sun is visible at any ...
6
votes
1answer
424 views

If we were to see the Sun with our naked eyes from the Orion belt, would all planets be encompassed inside the star? Is this calculable?

When we see a star it looks much bigger in diameter to us than it really is, this picture (extracted from here) explains what I mean: Notice that the point we see in the skynight, represented by ...
5
votes
3answers
589 views

What would the night sky look like if Earth orbited an intergalactic star?

If the Earth and its host star were located exactly in-between the Milky Way and Andromeda would the night sky be completely void of light? Would stars be visible to the unaided eye? So there could ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

How was the Earth-Sun distance originally calculated?

AFAIK it was possible long before the first interplanetary probes. Who did it?
5
votes
2answers
102 views

Does Tobler's First Law of Geography Apply to Star Composition?

There is a principle in Geography called Tobler's First Law of Geography which states that "Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things." Does this ...
5
votes
1answer
148 views

How can we be sure that we have identified very distant stars correctly?

From reading this question on calculating distance to stars and from a bit of background reading on the standard candle theory I still don't see how we can confirm that a star we see at one distance ...
4
votes
3answers
340 views

Do objects look larger the further away they are, beyond z=1?

I stumbled upon this text which illustrates and says: We find that as the object is moved to higher redshifts its angular size first decreases (as naively expected) but soon begins to increase ...
4
votes
1answer
67 views

Sun as our Supergiant

Let's talk about the time when our sun becomes a supergiant. We know that our solar system may get destroyed or it may get affected due the large mass of the supergiant and also due to the large ...
4
votes
2answers
263 views

Are planets moving away from the sun?

I saw on the tv show Through the Wormhole (hosted by Morgan Freeman) that the planets in our solar system have been continuously moving away from the sun for millions of years. however, when I try to ...
4
votes
6answers
2k views

Why are stars so far apart?

So, this is mere musing, but it seems that stars are quite extremely far apart. I tried to determine the mean distance between nearest neighbors for stars (in just our galaxy) but I'm not sure what it ...
4
votes
1answer
205 views

What is the angle between the equator of the sun, and the plane of the Earth's orbit

I want to know the angle between the plane that passes through the centre of sun and is perpendicular to its spin axis, and the plane that contains the orbit of earth around sun? Is this a fixed ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the furthest object observable by the naked eye from earth?

From XKCD: Caption: 'The light from those millions of stars you see is probably many thousands of years old' is a rare example of laypeople substantially OVERestimating astronomical numbers. So, ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

How to measure distances to stars by means of spectroscopic parallaxes?

How to measure distances to stars by means of spectroscopic parallaxes on practice? What is the accuracy of measuring distances using this method compared with distances based on HIPPARCOS ...
3
votes
3answers
78 views

Can't we see all of the Milky Way's supernovae with the naked eye?

I found this on the Wikipedia page on supernovae: The total supernova rate in our galaxy is estimated to be about 4.6 per century, or one every 22 years, although we haven't actually observed one ...
3
votes
1answer
207 views

Are there good animations of the movement of proximate stars over long time periods?

After reading about Barnard's Star and how it's approaching us 140 km/sec, I'm curious if there are any visualizations of how the nearest stars to Sol will be moving over the next 100k years or so. ...
3
votes
1answer
174 views

What is the farthest object we've been able to bounce signals off of to date?

I know people bounced lasers off of Venus and Mercury in 1960s in order to test the Shapiro delay. Since then, we've developed higher power lasers and radio transmitters (Bolshakovo transmitter). ...
3
votes
1answer
94 views

What is the scale of things you can see with gravitational lensing?

I'm trying to understand the examples of gravity lensing (using the general relativity property of large masses to bend light like a lens). Most of the examples I see are of some galaxy (presumably ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you calculate the lookback time distance to a given galaxy?

By lookback time distance I mean the same as Light travel distance. Can you calculate it by just knowing its redshift?
3
votes
1answer
53 views

Is it possible to get the distance to a star in the IPHAS DR2 catalog?

I'm looking at the IPHAS DR2 catalog. It has the Right Ascension and Declination but I'm not seeing any distance information (lightyears or parsecs). I'm wondering, given the columns in the dataset, ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Diameter of any galaxy

I've been trying to figure out how to find the diameter in kpc of any galaxy given that one knows the distance to it in Mpc (d) and also the angular diameter/size (A) in arcsec. I had a formula before ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

How do we know that the intrinsic brightness of Cepheid variables corresponds to their period?

As I understand it, beyond parallax the next way of estimating the distance to astronomical objects is by using a relationship between the period and intrinsic luminosity of Cepheid variables. How do ...
2
votes
1answer
183 views

How do we know galaxy GN-z11 is as far away as it is?

The news media recently reported that galaxy GN-z11, formed just 400 million years after the big bang, is much further away than originally thought at perhaps 13.2 billion light years. They say, ...
2
votes
2answers
72 views

How close would quasars have been to each other?

My understanding is that quasars are the early phase of formation of galaxies. At the time quasars were forming, the universe would have been smaller and therefore things closer to each other. About ...
2
votes
2answers
257 views

How to calculate position of an unknown star knowing positions of some other stars from an image?

Suppose I know the coordinates (right ascension and declination) of the stars marked with red. How should I calculate the coordinates of an unknown star, marked with yellow? Searching over the web, I ...
2
votes
2answers
145 views

Why are distant objects observed in the near infrared?

I was reading an article that explains why JWST is a successor to Hubble and not a replacement for Hubble. They explained that Hubble's science pushed astronomers to look at longer wavelength. And ...
2
votes
2answers
517 views

How to calculate distance from object to point on celestial sphere

I'd like to calculate the distance (in arcsec) from the object nearest to ra='08h55m10s' dec='-7d14m42s' to that point on the celestial sphere. I am actually having trouble identifying the object. I ...
2
votes
1answer
180 views

3D Positions of Nearby Stars

I have come across a number of star catalogs that list stars by right ascension and declination, along with other data such as magnitude. Is there a star catalog that lists the 3-D position of stars (...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

What is the radius of observable universe- 46 billion LY or 200 yottameters?

I have found two answers for the radius of the observable universe. Wikipedia (and other places, including this site) say approximately 46 billion LY. I am researching this to study for the National ...
2
votes
1answer
304 views

How many light years away is Earth from the closest outer edge of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way?

How many light years is Earth away from the closest outer edge of the supermassive black hole in Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way? I don't mean the distance to the center of the galaxy, ...