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More about parallax

More about Parallax

Astronomers can measure parallax by measuring the position of a nearby star very carefully with respect to more distant stars behind it, then measuring those distances again six months later when the Earth is on the opposite side of its orbit. The shift is tiny... less than an arcsecond even for the nearest star (an arcsecond is 1/60 of an arcminute, which is 1/60 of a degree).
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parallax diagram

The formula for finding the distance to a star, measured in parsecs, using the star's parallax, measured in arcseconds, is:

parallax formula
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A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC

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