Distance to Pluto

by Fraser Cain on April 26, 2008


Pluto has the most elliptical orbit of all the planets and dwarf planets. In addition to this widely varying orbital distance, Pluto is also highly inclined, orbiting above and below the planet of the ecliptic that the rest of the planets follow.

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Pluto Distance from the Sun
Since Pluto orbits the Sun, like the rest of the planets and dwarf planets, astronomers typically measure the distance of Pluto in terms of Astronomical Units (AU). 1 AU measures the distance of the Earth to the Sun.

At its closest point, Pluto is only 29 astronomical units from the Sun (4.4 billion km or 2.75 billion miles). And at its most distant, it can be 49 AU (7.29 billion km, or 4.53 billion miles) from the Sun. In addition to being highly elliptical however, Pluto’s orbit is also inclined at an angle of over 17-degrees. At some points along its orbit, Pluto is above the plane of the ecliptic that the planets follow, and at other times, it’s below.

Pluto’s average distance from the Sun is 40 astronomical units (5.91 billion km or 3.67 billion miles).

Distance From Earth to Pluto
The Earth is only 1 AU from the Sun. When the Earth and Pluto are perfectly lined up with the Sun, their closest point is approximately 28 astronomical units. And at their furthest point, when Earth is on the opposite side of the Sun, Pluto can be 50 astronomical units.

About 

Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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