World Facts

How Far is Mars From the Sun?

How far apart Mars is from the Sun was first determined in 1672 by Giovanni Cassini.

Mars is one of the planets in the solar system. It is the fourth planet from the Sun, after Mercury, Venus, and Earth. Mars is the second-smallest planet after Mercury. Mars is named after a Roman god of war. The distinctive feature among the astronomical bodies is the reddish appearance on the surface. Further to this, Mars is a terrestrial planet with natural features such as valleys, deserts, and also caps of polar ice like the ones found on Earth. Mars takes 687 Earth days to revolve around the Sun; this is called the Martian year. The distance from Mars to the Sun is difficult to precisely calculate since Mars has different orbits.

Who Determined the Distance?

How far apart Mars is from the Sun was first determined in 1672 by Mr. Giovanni Cassini. Giovanni applied the parallax method. Together with astrologer, Jean Richer, they measured the position of Mars and triangulated that distance with the known distance between French Guiana and Paris. The level of accuracy at that time deviated by only 7% from what is presently acceptable using modern measuring instruments.

How Far Is Mars from the Sun?

Mars has the most consistent orbit among all planets. The eccentric orbit ensures consistency in distance from the Sun. There are two distances. The first is aphelion which refers to the farthest distance Mars can be from the Sun whereas perihelion refers to the closest the planet can be to the Sun. At aphelion, the planet is 249 million kilometers (154 million miles) from the Sun whereas at perihelion Mars is 206 million kilometers (128 miles) from the Sun. The perihelion and aphelion alternate every two years. The average distance from the Sun to Mars without considering the perihelion and aphelion is approximately 230 million kilometers (143 million miles).

The distance from the Sun to Mars can also be measured in light years. A light year refers to the distance light travels per Earth year. The approximate distance between the Sun and Mars is 0.000024155306893301653 light years. This parameter assists astronomers to calculate distance in the interstellar space.

How Long Will Sunlight Take to Reach Mars?

The distance between the Sun and Mars changes as the planet orbits the sun. Nevertheless, on average sunlight will take approximately 760 seconds or twelve minutes and forty seconds to reach Mars. The amount of time is calculated by dividing the average distance in meters by speed of light. The speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second. Comparatively, sunlight takes eight minutes and nineteen seconds to reach the Earth.

How Far Is Mars from the Sun in Astronomical Units?

Astronomical units, also denoted as AU, refers to a unit of measuring the length between the Sun and the planets. However, AU varies from aphelion (maximum) to perihelion (minimum). The AU is a universally recognized yardstick for knowing the distances between all solar systems. The average Mars to Sun distance is 1.52 AU into two decimal points. The age ranges between 1.38 AU and 1.666 AU depending on whether it is perihelion or aphelion respectively. Comparatively the astronomical distance from the Earth is one AU.

More in World Facts