”How many miles is Jupiter from the Sun?” is yet another good question from our readers. Jupiter’s semi-major axis is 483.78 million miles from the Sun. Like every other planet in our Solar System, Jupiter’s orbit is elliptical. When Jupiter is at perihelion(closest approach) it is only 460,237,112 miles, but when it is at aphelion(most distant) it is 507,040,015 miles from the Sun. Average the two and you get Jupiter’s semi-major axis. Jupiter is about 5.2 times farther from the Sun than Earth is. Since one AU is equal to the average distance from Earth to the Sun, that translates into Jupiter being 5.2 AU from the Sun.
Now, for those of you who do not use the English system here are the same figures converted to km. Perihelion is 740,679,835 km. Aphelion is 816,001,807 km. Jupiter’s semi-major axis is 778,340,821 km. The 5.2 AU does not change based on whether you use the metric or English system.
To help you understand distances in the Solar System here are a few other distances from the Sun. The values are all for a body’s semi-major axis. Mercury…35,983,125 miles(57,909,227 km), Earth…92,956,050 miles(149,598,262 km), and the dwarf planet Pluto…3,670,092,055 miles(5,906,440,628 km).
Alright, now that you know how far Jupiter is from the Sun, let’s look at a few more the planet’s facts and figures. Jupiter is by far the largest planet in our Solar System. It is 2.5 times more massive than all of the other planets.
Jupiter has a huge gravitational influence. The planet’s gravity strips ash and other materials from its moons as well as influences other planets. A few scientists have gone so far as to suggest that Jupiter’s gravity could help push Mercury out of our Solar System several billion years from now.
Jupiter has the gases needed to ignite fusion, but, despite being so massive, lacks enough mass and the heat required for nuclear fusion. Jupiter would have to become 70 times more massive to reach the minimum mass threshold for fusion. Then it has to find the required heat. Those factors are among those cited by scientists as proof that Jupiter could never become a star.
Having the answer to ”how many miles is Jupiter from the Sun” is a small scratch on the surface of the Jovian facts to be had. Hopefully, it is enough to encourage you to read on. You will find plenty of facts to surprise your friends with, if you do.
We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast just about Jupiter. Listen here, Episode 56: Jupiter.