Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Does the Sun Appear on Other Planets?

Question:

“I was recently thinking about how big the sun looks on our planet. I then started to wonder how big it would look on Mars then Jupiter, Saturn. So on so forth ,until we reached little Pluto (which is no longer a planet, but a dwarf planet). In any case, how big would our personal star look on all the planets? Including Mercury and Venus. and all the rest.”


Answer:

This image only covers the 8 large planets in our solar system. But it is a rather good approximation of what the Sun would look like from various planets in our solar system. From some questions, a visual representation really is the best way to go.

That said, since it just covers the planets, naturally, Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake, Haumea, and all of the larger Kupier Belt Objects (KBOs) aren’t covered.

If you don’t know, the Kuiper Belt is a region of icy debris beyond the orbit of the outermost planet, Neptune. The Kuiper Belt is believed to be home to millions of distant bodies—the aforementioned “Kuiper Belt Objects.”




To understand just how distant these objects are, let’s speak about the larger KBO, Pluto: It is about 39 times farther from the Sun than the Earth is. This means that, if you were standing on Pluto, the Sun would appear 1/39th (or 0.026 times) of the size we see here on Earth.

Ultimately, this tiny world is generally 3.67 billion miles (5.91 billion km) away from the sun, on average. On the other hand, at its closest, it is 2.75 billion miles (4.4 billion km) from the Sun. And at its farthest, it is some 4.53 billion miles (7.29 billion km). Those distances seem to vary quite a lot. However, it really doesn’t factor in all that much in the grand scheme of things. At these distances, our sun would appear to be just another star.

Albeit, an extremely bright one that would hurt your eyes if you looked at it directly.

As a side note, since Pluto has such an extremely elliptical orbit, sometimes, it crosses intoNeptune’s orbit. in other words, sometimes the Sun is actually closer to Pluto than to Neptune. This remains true for about 20 years out of each orbit. Pluto’s total orbit, if you are wondering, is 247.68 Earth-years. This 20 year time period may seem pretty insignificant considering the multi-century orbit, but still a cool fact never-the-less.

To avoid any confusion, the little spaceship seen in each frame is irrelevant to the overall point. The original designer put them there to help establish how much light the Sun generates on each planet (each comparison was based on the approximate apparent visual magnitude of the Sun for each planet).

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