How far is a parsec

A parsec was a unit of distance equal to 3. In the real world, a parsec is a measurement of distance based on apparent stellar motion as observed from Earth. The Star Wars parsec appears to be equivalent to the real-world measurement: The Essential Atlas says a parsec is 3. If the Star Wars galaxy is similar in size to oursroughly 30, parsecs across, elementary arithmetic shows that any ship capable of traveling across the galaxy in only a few weeks could travel about a parsec per minute.

However, in The Courtship of Princess Leiait takes more than a week to travel only seventy parsecs the stated distance between Dathomir and Coruscantand in Attack of the Clonesit seems to take many hours to travel the distance between Tatooine and Geonosis, which is stated to be less than a parsec. However, the map Amidala shows Anakin while talking about the distance only seems to zoom about tenfold from the entire galaxy, implying that either the Star Wars galaxy is very small which seems unlikely, since no night sky seems to show the huge numbers of visible stars that would be consistent with the corresponding smaller interstellar distancesor Amidala misspoke.

The latter is statistically more likely, since the odds of two random planets in the galaxy being within a parsec of each other are about one in a hundred billion.

In the novelizationhe said, "less than twelve standard timeparts. The Millennium Falcon.

how far is a parsec

The director's commentary on the Blu-Ray Star Wars set explains that hyperspace travel requires heavy computation to compute a path that does not cause you to fly through a star. The Millennium Falcon has customized computation engines that calculate shorter hyperspace paths more quickly than those in other ships.

Shorter distances mean faster travel times. The Falcon reduces travel times by a combination of being faster in a traditional sense, and by using more accurate navigation calculations. Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page. Sign In Don't have an account? Start a Wiki. This article is about the distance measurement. You may be looking for the clone trooper by the same name. Contents [ show ].

Categories : Legends articles Units of length measurement. Hidden category: Legends articles with canon counterparts. Stream the best stories.

Start Your Free Trial. Try Now. Sign up now!For a more accurate answer please select 'decimal' from the options above the result. Note: You can increase or decrease the accuracy of this answer by selecting the number of significant figures required from the options above the result. Note: For a pure decimal result please select 'decimal' from the options above the result.

Let's Talk Physics: What is a parsec?

Astronomers used trigonometry to calculate the distance to stars long before the term parsec was coined, but the new unit made it easier to conceptualise unfathomable distances. The parallax angle is found by measuring the parallax motion or apparent movement of a star relative to stable, more distant stars when the star is observed from opposite sides of the Sun an interval of six months on Earth.

The parallax angle is obtained by halving the angular difference in measurements. The distance from the Sun of a body with a parallax angle of 1 arcsecond was thus defined as a unit and, thanks to Turner, named the parsec. Parsecs to Miles. Accuracy Select resolution 1 significant figure 2 significant figures 3 significant figures 4 significant figures 5 significant figures 6 significant figures 7 significant figures 8 significant figures.

Format Miles:Yards Decimal Fractions.

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Parsecs Miles 0 pc 0. Parsecs Miles 20 pc Parsecs Miles 40 pc Ask Dr. Dear Dr. SETI: How far is a parsec? Usually, when someone declines to sign a name to a query, it is because he or she is afraid to show ignorance. In this case, however, your question reveals a good deal of knowledge, so you should not have been hesitant to sign your name. Specifically, the wording of your question shows that you know a parsec is a unit of distance. This puts you at the head of the class -- and way ahead of those scriptwriters in Hollywood who seem to think that parsec is a unit of time The above is, of course, a direct reference to everybody's favorite science fiction action-adventure movie, the classic "Star Wars.

What is a Parsec? The Truth About the Millennium Falcon’s 12 Parsec Kessel Run

Any space pilot worth his wings would have known better. Star Wars fans have ever since tried to rationalize the error, by claiming that the shortest distance between two points in hyperspace is not a straight line at all, and thus by reducing the distance to 'under twelve parsecs', Solo was proving the abilities of his ship, and his piloting skills.

But, I digress. The short answer, Anonymous, is that one parsec equals about 3. But you probably wanted to know how it was derived. If you didn't, you wouldn't still be reading this, would you?

OK, so here's the long answer. Parsec stands for parallax-second. Let's define the parallax part first, and then deal with the second which I'll admit sounds like a unit of time, thus confusing Han Solo, but really isn't.

Bear with me, please. It's pretty hard to directly measure interstellar distances from Earth. I mean, who are you going to get to hold the other end of the tape measure?

So, we measure them indirectly. One useful technique involves the concept of parallax. But before we go there, we have to talk about the orbit of the Earth. Try to picture the Earth orbiting the Sun. Let's assume we go around in a perfectly circular orbit. OK, I know Kepler said it's really an elipse with the Sun at one focus, but humor me here The radius of the Earth's orbit or, more properly, the distance from the center of mass of the Earth to the center of mass of the Sun is a distance which we call one Astronomical Unit, or AU.

Remember that it takes us one year to orbit the Sun.

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So, if you picture the position of the Earth right now, where will it be in exactly six months? Why, on the exact opposite side of the Sun, of course.However, throughout the entire film, they never really explain what a parsec really is. Had I not already been elbow deep in parsac research I would have still been confused.

Regardless, the Kessel run and how it relates to parsecs is still misleading. It had been a while since I have watched the complete series, and I decided to look some things up as I watched. The things I learned disturbed, and I wish I could un-learn them. Sounds fast right? Guess what, Mr. Solo has deceived you. This is the quote that got me started researching the Star Wars shenanigans. I was hoping to find out exactly, how fast is one parsec?

What I learned instead was disturbing. A parsec is a measure of distance!

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According to Wookipediathe Kessel run is in fact, 18 parsecs:. So how did Han shorten an 18 Parsec trip to only 12 parsecs? So not only is he a liar, he is a cheater! Wookipedia goes onto explain exactly how it is all possible. However, the speedy Millennium Falcon is able to fly closer than any other ship and make the run in only 12 parsecs. Technicalities aside, I personally think that it was an after thought. How long is a Parsec exactly? No joke, a Parsec is a real scientific measurement.

Seriously, look it up. It is used to measure astronomical units. The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is about 1. No questions as to how fast the Millenium Falcon is. Now to address the Hardcore fans that are probably going to tear this post apart.

This is how I see it. This was written straight from my interpretation of the films.

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And then again on episode 7 …. He has an unhealthy obsession with watching movies and discussing his opinion. See more articles by Craig Layne.

What is a parsec? Sensitivity Training - ReParsecunit for expressing distances to stars and galaxiesused by professional astronomers. Thus, a star at a distance of one parsec would have a parallax of one second, and the distance of an object in parsecs is the reciprocal of its parallax in seconds of arc. For example, the nearest star, Proxima Centauriwhich is part of the Alpha Centauri triple-star system, has a parallax of 0.

One parsec equals 3. The Sun is at a distance of 8. The distance to the Andromeda Galaxy Messier 31 is about 0. The farthest galaxies and quasars have distances on the order of about 4, megaparsecs, or 13, light-years. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Home Technology Engineering Mechanical Engineering.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History.

how far is a parsec

This article was most recently revised and updated by Erik GregersenSenior Editor. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Distances can be measured out to around a kiloparsec by trigonometric parallax see star: Determining stellar distances. Therefore, one parsec equals 3. Since parallax is inversely proportional to distance, a star at 10 parsecs would have a parallax of 0. The nearest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri…. History at your fingertips.

Sign up here to see what happened On This Dayevery day in your inbox! Email address. By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. More About.There's a moment in the original "Star Wars" film that has left some viewers—those who know their scientific units—puzzled for quite some time. That sounds awfully fast. But the parsec is a unit of distance, not time. It's equivalent to about 19 trillion miles or 3.

How could a hot-shot pilot like Han make such a rookie mistake? Was this a "Star Wars" blooper, a deliberate trick, or the truth? There are three possible explanations. The most obvious explanation is that George Lucas didn't do his research. Many sci-fi universes have their own invented time units, such as the microts seconds in "Farscape" and the yahrens years in the original "Battlestar Galactica.

He simply missed the fact that a parsec is a real unit of measurement. One could argue that, within the "Star Wars" universe, a parsec is a unit of time.

The Expanded Universe, however—as depicted in the film's sequels, prequels, and spin-off comics, books, and video games—establishes time units with the same names as their real-life counterparts. Another possibility is that Han Solo was just making stuff up. He had a price on his head and needed money fast—and here were two apparent yokels in need of a ride. Although Luke Skywalker claimed to be a good pilot, Han probably thought he was bluffing to bring the price down.

By making a seemingly nonsensical claim, Han might have just been testing his potential customers. If they bought the story, he could assume they were ignorant about space travel and try to charge them more. The incredulous face Luke makes in response to Han's claim might support this theory.

For what it's worth, that's also how George Lucas explains the line. Like the previous explanation, however, this interpretation is not supported by the Expanded Universe, which suggests that Luke truly was a novice pilot. The Expanded Universe puts forth the most interesting and thorough explanation of the parsec problem: the Kessel Run was normally an parsec route.

how far is a parsec

A popular travel route for smuggling operations, the Kessel Run went around the Maw, a cluster of black holes. Han's claim to have made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs was therefore not just a boast about his ship's speed but also a boast about his skills and daring as a pilot. Han shaved a third of the distance and precious time off the normal route by flying dangerously close to the black holes.Random converter.

This stellar distance and parallax calculator determines the distance to a nearby star in light-years and parsecs from its stellar parallax measured in arcseconds and vice versa. The parallax is the apparent change in the position of an object resulting from a change in the position of the observer.

It is measured by the angle or semi-angle between the two lines of sight from an observer to the object. Stellar parallax is the difference in direction of a star as seen from two widely separated points. The parallax of a celestial body can be used to find an approximate distance using the formula.

Convert 1 Parsec to Miles

Where D is the actual distance measured in parsecs and p is the observed parallax angle measured in arcseconds. This formula is used in our calculator.

A parsec is defined as the distance at which an object has a 1-arcsecond stellar parallax. In other words, a parsec is a distance, from which a disk with a diameter of one astronomical unit will have an angular size of one arcsecond.

Learn technical English with this video! Because of its vastness, space brings a whole new dimension to measuring distances. In the article on the length and distance we mainly talked about measuring relatively small and easy to picture distances, but distances in space are hard to imagine because of their vastness, and our common measuring units for distance including the conventional units such as meters and kilometers are hardly going to be of use.

We also cannot use rulers or GPS devices to measure distances between planets and between galaxies, so we will need to introduce not only new measuring units but also new techniques to measure these distances. Using radars for these measurements is helpful not only for knowing the distance to a given astronomical object, but also to estimate the rate of change of this distance.

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This, in turn, is useful when tracking movements of objects, for example when estimating the impact of an asteroid with the Earth. This method is limited to the astronomical objects that are relatively close to Earth, at most within our Solar System. This is because the radiation signal weakens and scatters over long distances.

In addition, the larger the distance, the larger the object has to be for the radar to detect it. We have discussed stellar parallax in the article on length and distance but let us briefly look at it here as well, because it is fundamental in measuring distances in space.

Parallax is a geometric phenomenon used in distance calculations. It is manifested when observing an object from different points of view against a more distant background. Here is an easy way to see parallax in action: hold up one finger and close one eye. Note how far this finger is from another object in the distant background say, a tree, if you are outside, or a piece of furniture if you are indoors. Now close this eye and open the other one. Did you notice that your pencil or finger moved relative to the other object?

The fact that it moves is the manifestation of parallax. If you now try to do the same experiment but keep your finger closer to your eyes, you will notice that the shift of your finger relative to the distant object is different. The closer your finger is to your eyes, — the larger the parallax shift relative to the remote object when you compare the view from each eye. This tells us that we can use this phenomenon to measure how far the object our finger is from us.

You can see a more detailed mathematical explanation on how the distances are calculated in the article on distance, but in general, we measure these distances at two different times in the year, when the Earth is on opposite sides of the Sun at 6-month intervals, since the Earth makes one rotation around the Sun in one year. We use the known distance from the Earth to the Sun measured as 1 astronomical unitand measure the angle formed between the line connecting the Earth at the first point of measurement, the star under consideration, and the Earth at the second point of measurement.

In fact, we need to know half of the angle, not the entire one. This half-angle is known as the parallax angle and it is marked P on the illustration. This gives us enough information to calculate the distance from the Earth to the star using trigonometric equations.