Friday, January 7, 2011

Ultra Distances

If you think running 100 miles is far and takes awhile, think about this little story from the blog Bad Astronomy:

Since last July, the Earth has been falling ever closer to the Sun. Every moment since then, our planet has edged closer to the nearest star in the Universe, approaching it at over 1100 kilometers per hour, 27,500 km/day, 800,000 km every month.

But don’t panic! We do this every year. And that part of it ends today anyway.

The Earth’s orbit around the Sun is not a perfect circle. It’s actually an ellipse, so sometimes we’re closer to the Sun, and sometimes farther away. Various factors change the exact date and time every year — you can get the numbers at the Naval Observatory site — but aphelion (when we’re farthest from the Sun) happens in July, and perihelion (when we’re closest) in January.

And we’re at perihelion now! Today, January 3, 2011, around 19:00 GMT (2:00 p.m. Eastern US time), the Earth reaches perihelion. At that time, we’ll be about 147,099,587 kilometers (91,245,873 miles) from the Sun.

That's a lot of numbers and geekiness.  So just how far is that 91+ million miles that are we away from the sun?

To give you an idea of how far that is, a jet traveling at a cruising speed of 800 km/hr would take over 20 years to reach the Sun.

That, my friends, would be the flight from hell.

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