Can the Sun be closer to the Earth than any planet is to Earth?
Are there times when the Sun is closer to Earth than any planet is to Earth? In other words, are there times when the distance between the Earth and the Sun is less than the distance from the Earth to any planet? If this can happen, when is the next time?
That is possible, and it will happen later this year (2012). From September 23 to October 28, the Sun will be closer to the Earth than any planet. On September 23, Venus will be closer to the Earth but will be moving away from us. On October 28, Mercury will be moving toward us and will become closer than the Sun.
Here is a diagram of the inner Solar System on October 17, 2012, when the Sun will be 1.00 AU from the Earth, and Mercury and Venus are both 1.17 AU from the Earth. AU is an abbreviation for Astronomical Unit, which is often used by astronomers and engineers to express interplanetary distances. The average distance from the Earth to the Sun is almost exactly 1 AU.
I only discuss the inner planets, because Jupiter (and the other outer planets) can never be closer than Mars.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- Is the distance from the Earth to the Sun changing?
- How do you measure the distance between Earth and the Sun?
- What is the pattern to the distances between each planet and the sun?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 5326 times since September 27, 2012.
Last modified: September 27, 2012 6:39:22 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)