Pluto’s Distance from the Sun

by Fraser Cain on November 9, 2009

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Pluto's Distance from the Sun

The Pluto system seen from the surface of Hydra (NASA)


Pluto’s distance from the Sun is 5.9 billion km – the exact number is 5,906,376,272 km. Need that figure in miles? Pluto’s distance from the Sun is 3.67 billion miles.

Keep in mind that this distance is an average. Pluto follows a highly elliptical orbit around the Sun. At the closest point of its orbit, called perihelion, Pluto gets to within 4.44 billion km from the Sun. And then at its most distant point of its orbit, called aphelion, Pluto gets to within 7.38 billion km of the Sun.

Astronomers use another term to measure distance in the Solar System called “astronomical units”. 1 astronomical unit, or AU, is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun – about 150 million km. Pluto’s perihelion is 29.7 AU, and its aphelion is 49.3 AU. Pluto’s average distance, or semi-major axis, is 39.5 AU.

We have written many articles about Pluto for Universe Today. Here’s an article about why Pluto isn’t a planet any more, and here’s an article about methane in Pluto’s atmosphere.

Want more info on Pluto, check out Hubblesite’s News Releases about Pluto, and here’s a link to NASA’s Solar System Exploration Guide to Pluto.

We’ve recorded several episodes of Astronomy Cast about Pluto. Here’s one, Episode 64: Pluto and the Icy Outer Solar System.

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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