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HOW MANY MILES TO A LIGHT YEAR?

Distances to stars are so great that astronomers use a light-year (the distance light traveling at 186,000 miles per second per second reaches in one year) as a unit of measure.

You might be interested in calculating this distance in
miles:

186,000 miles (the speed of light per second)
X 86,400 seconds (the number of seconds in a day)
X 365 days (the number of days in one year)
-----------------
5,865,696,000,000 miles per year

The figure is usually rounded off to read six trillion miles.

You might be interested in calculating the distance in miles to some close stars: our sun (8 seconds away); Alpha Centauri, our next nearest star (4.3 light-years away); Polaris, the North Star (300 light-years away).

(Note: If a scale of 1 in. = 1,000,000 miles is used to develop a model of the Solar System on the playground, then Alpha Centauri would be over 400 miles away! If people could travel in a space ship at 25,000 miles per hour, it would take about 10,000 years to reach this star.)

 

 
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