In September, Saturn is 9.9au away from Earth. If we use the parallax method, what should be the base line between the two people?

So I know that $D = B / \theta$, but how do I find out theta? I'm pretty sure the answer is pretty obvious, but my mind really is not working right now, so any help is appreciated

Thank you in advance.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what D, B, and theta represent? $\endgroup$ – JohnHoltz Sep 21 '17 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ It sounds like you're trying to calculate both $B$ and $\theta$. In order to use the equation you've presented, you have to know at least two of the three. $\endgroup$ – zephyr Sep 21 '17 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ Even if the observers were on opposite sides of the Earth, the parallax is only about 0.03 seconds of arc. That would be difficult to see against the starry background even with a good telescope. $\endgroup$ – user21 Sep 21 '17 at 16:03

Are you treating $\Theta$ as the only unknown, i.e. you believe you know the baseline distance exactly? If so, then you compare your angular sighting of a distant star vs. Saturn with the same for the other observer. The devil is in the error analysis. Your two angles will be absurdly close to each other in magnitude, which means a very small error/uncertainty in value leads to a large error in the calculated distance $D$ to Saturn.

You should find some first-year-level text on measurement & statistical error analysis to get a better feel for the difficulty here.


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