Browse Definitions:
Definition

astronomical unit (AU)

An astronomical unit (AU) is the mean distance between the center of the Earth and the center of the sun. The actual distance varies depending on the time of year, because the Earth's orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle. The mean, or average, separation is approximately 1.4959787 x 10 11 meters, which is 1.4959787 x 10 8 kilometers or 9.2955807 x 10 7 miles.

Distances within the solar system are commonly measured in AU. Mercury, the innermost planet, orbits at a mean distance of about 0.4 AU from the sun, while Neptune, one of the most distant planets known, has an average orbital radius of about 30 AU. Interstellar and intergalactic distances are expressed in light-years or parsec s.

Interestingly, the Earth is closest to the Sun during the month of January, and farthest during July. The variation is about ±1 percent of the mean distance. Seasonal weather results from the tilt of the Earth's axis, and is not significantly affected by the distance of the planet from the sun.

Also see the Table of Physical Units and Constants.

This was last updated in January 2011

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces.

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchSecurity

  • FIDO (Fast Identity Online)

    FIDO (Fast ID Online) is a set of technology-agnostic security specifications for strong authentication. FIDO is developed by the...

  • cryptanalysis

    Cryptanalysis is the study of ciphertext, ciphers and cryptosystems with the aim of understanding how they work and finding and ...

  • Trojan horse (computing)

    In computing, a Trojan horse is a program that appears harmless, but is, in fact, malicious.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement)

    A cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement) is an agreement between a cloud service provider and a customer that ensures a ...

  • wear leveling

    Wear leveling is a process that is designed to extend the life of solid-state storage devices.

  • storage area network (SAN)

    A storage area network (SAN) is a dedicated high-speed network or subnetwork that interconnects and presents shared pools of ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close