The distance that separates the Sun from the Earth is about 93 million miles (150 million km) on average. This distance is used as a reference to measure distances in the solar system: the average distance from the Sun to the Earth corresponds to 1 AU.
The Earth orbits the Sun, like the other celestial bodies in the solar system, but it does not follow a circular orbit but instead describes an elliptical path in which the Sun is one of the foci of the ellipse.
Concerning the distance to the Sun, our planet is the third closest to the Sun. Concerning the mass and diameter, it is the largest among the terrestrial planets (planets composed of rock and metals) in the solar system.
The Sun is the king star of the solar system around which the bodies of the planetary system gravitate, which also includes the Earth. Its mass represents 99.9% of the solar system's mass as a whole.
In the rotation of the Earth around the Sun, we highlight two singular points:
The perihelion is the point when the Earth is closest to the Sun.
The aphelion is the point when the Earth is farthest from the Sun.
Since the Earth describes an elliptical orbit, the exact distance between the Earth and the Sun constantly changes. However, it is possible to define the minimum, maximum, and average distance.
Measuring the distance between the centers of the Sun and the Earth, we have to:
The minimum distance of the Sun to the Earth - when it is closer to the Sun - is 91,402,505 miles (147,098,074 km).
The maximum distance of the Sun to the Earth is around 94.5 million miles (152 million km.
The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is 92,957,130 miles (149,600,000 km).
What Is an Astronomical Unit (AU)?
The so-called astronomical unit corresponds to the average distance from the Sun, about 93 million miles (150 million km).
At the general assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Beijing in 2012, it was decided to give the astronomical unit the current value of 149,597,870,700 meters.
Examples of Solar System Distances Measured in Astronomical Units
The radius of the Sun is 0.0047 AU (700,000 km); therefore, the Earth's volume is one-millionth of the Sun.
Jupiter, the largest planet, is located 5.2 astronomical units from the Sun, 780,000,000 km, and its radius is 71,000 km.
Neptune, the most distant planet, is 30 astronomical units, 4.5 × 109 km.
The Oort cloud is almost a light-year from the center of the Sun. In astronomical units, it is believed to be located from 2000 AU or 5000 AU to 50,000 AU from the Sun.
The closest star to Earth other than the Sun (Proxima Centauri) is 4.2 light-years away.
With some exceptions, the further from the Sun, the greater the distance from its orbit to the orbit of the next object. For example, Venus is 0.33 AU further from the Sun than Mercury, and Saturn is 4.3 AU further than Jupiter; Neptune is 10.5 AU further than Uranus.
If the distance between the Sun and Neptune were the length of a soccer field, the Sun would be 3 centimeters in diameter (two-thirds of a golf ball). Moreover, the giant planets would be 3 millimeters in size, and the diameter of Earth and other inner planets would be the size of a flea (0.3 mm).