Earth Science

Beyond the Solar System

Distance Between Stars

Study Tip
Using some geometry, can you understand how scientists might be able to use data to determine the distance between stars? What measurements are needed?

Parallax

  • Parallax is the shift of position that occurs when the observer moves.  
  • Astronomers first look at a star and note its relative position to other stars.
  • After six months when the Earth is on the opposite side of the Sun, the same measurements are made.
  • The size of the change between the two sets of measurements is used to calculate the distance to the star.  
Study Tip
Using some geometry, can you understand how scientists might be able to use data to determine the distance between stars? What measurements are needed?
Distance Between Stars
Concept Check
  • What is parallax?
  • How do scientists determine the distance between stars?