Astronomical unit

The astronomical unit (symbol: au,[1][2][3] or AU or AU) is a unit of length, roughly the distance from Earth to the Sun and equal to about 150 million kilometres (93 million miles) or ~8 light minutes. The actual distance varies by about 3% as Earth orbits the Sun, from a maximum (aphelion) to a minimum (perihelion) and back again once each year. The astronomical unit was originally conceived as the average of Earth's aphelion and perihelion; however, since 2012 it has been defined as exactly 149597870700 m (see below for several conversions).[4]

Astronomical unit
The grey line indicates the Earth–Sun distance, which on average is about 1 astronomical unit.
General information
Unit systemAstronomical system of units
(Accepted for use with the SI)
Unit oflength
Symbolau or AU or AU
Conversions
1 au or AU or AU in ...... is equal to ...
   metric (SI) units   1.495978707×1011 m
   imperial & US units   9.2956×107 mi
   astronomical units   4.8481×10−6 pc
   1.5813×10−5 ly

The astronomical unit is used primarily for measuring distances within the Solar System or around other stars. It is also a fundamental component in the definition of another unit of astronomical length, the parsec.[5]