How far are the planets from the Sun?

Apr 22, 2014 by Elizabeth Howell, Universe Today
Artist’s impression of the planets in our solar system, along with the Sun (at bottom). Credit: NASA

The eight planets in our solar system each occupy their own orbits around the Sun. They orbit the star in ellipses, which means their distance to the sun varies depending on where they are in their orbits. When they get closest to the Sun, it's called perihelion, and when it's farthest away, it's called aphelion.

So to talk about how far the planets are from the is a difficult question, not only because their distances constantly change, but also because the spans are so immense—making it hard for a human to grasp. For this reason, astronomers often use a term called , representing the from the Earth to the Sun.

The table below (first created by Universe Today founder Fraser Cain in 2008) shows all the planets and their distance to the Sun, as well as how close these get to Earth.

Mercury

  • Closest: 46 million km / 29 million miles (.307 AU)
  • Furthest: 70 million km / 43 million miles (.466 AU)
  • Average: 57 million km / 35 million miles (.387 AU)
  • Closest to Mercury from Earth: 77.3 million km / 48 million miles

Venus

  • Closest: 107 million km / 66 million miles (.718 AU)
  • Furthest: 109 million km / 68 million miles (.728 AU)
  • Average: 108 million km / 67 million miles (.722 AU)
  • Closest to Venus from Earth: 40 million km / 25 million miles

Earth

  • Closest: 147 million km / 91 million miles (.98 AU)
  • Furthest: 152 million km / 94 million miles (1.1 AU)
  • Average: 150 million km / 93 million miles (1 AU)

Mars

From the Solar Dynamics Observatory: Planet Venus transiting the Sun in the 304 Anstrom wavelength at approx. 90,000 degrees Fahrenheit in July 2012. Credit: NASA/SDO
  • Closest: 205 million km / 127 million miles (1.38 AU)
  • Furthest: 249 million km / 155 million miles (1.66 AU)
  • Average: 228 million km / 142 million miles (1.52 AU)
  • Closest to Mars from Earth: 55 million km / 34 million miles

Jupiter

  • Closest: 741 million km /460 million miles (4.95 AU)
  • Furthest: 817 million km / 508 million miles (5.46 AU)
  • Average: 779 million km / 484 million miles (5.20 AU)
  • Closest to Jupiter from Earth: 588 million km / 346 million miles

Saturn

  • Closest: 1.35 billion km / 839 million miles (9.05 AU)
  • Furthest: 1.51 billion km / 938 million miles (10.12 AU)
  • Average: 1.43 billion km / 889 million miles (9.58 AU)
  • Closest to Saturn from Earth: 1.2 billion km /746 million miles

Uranus

  • Closest: 2.75 billion km / 1.71 billion miles (18.4 AU)
  • Furthest: 3.00 billion km / 1.86 billion miles (20.1 AU)
  • Average: 2.88 billion km / 1.79 billion miles (19.2 AU)
  • Closest to Uranus from Earth: 2.57 billion km / 1.6 billion miles
The “pale blue dot” of Earth as seen from Cassini on July 19, 2013. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

Neptune

  • Closest: 4.45 billion km /2.77 billion miles (29.8 AU)
  • Furthest: 4.55 billion km / 2.83 billion miles (30.4 AU)
  • Average: 4.50 billion km / 2.8 billion miles (30.1 AU)
  • Closest to Neptune from Earth: 4.3 billion km / 2.7 billion miles

As a special bonus, we'll include Pluto too, even though Pluto is not a planet anymore.

Artist’s impression of New Horizons’ encounter with Pluto and Charon. Credit: NASA/Thierry Lombry

Pluto

  • Closest: 4.44 billion km / 2.76 billion miles (29.7 AU)
  • Furthest: 7.38 billion km / 4.59 billion miles (49.3 AU)
  • Average: 5.91 billion km / 3.67 billion miles (39.5 AU)
  • Closest to Pluto from Earth: 4.28 billion km / 2.66 billion miles

Explore further: New comet Jacques may pass 8.4 million miles from Venus this July

More information: Online resources demonstrating the scale of the Solar System:

If The Moon Were Only A Pixel (Josh Worth Art & Design)Scale Model Of Our Solar System (University of Manitoba)Build A Solar System (Exploratorium)Scale Solar System (Josh Wetenkamp)

Many cities and countries have also installed scale models of the Solar System, such as:

Voyage Scale Solar System (Washington, D.C.)Sagan Planet Walk (Ithaca, N.Y.)Maine Solar System ModelSweden Solar SystemPlanet Walk (Munich, Germany)The Solar System (Brittany, France; website in French only)Solar System Drive (Australia)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A new view of comet ISON

May 03, 2013

Here's a new image of Comet C/2012 S1 ISON, as seen on May 1, 2013 by Ernesto Guido and Nick Howes of the Remanzacco Observatory. They used the 2 meter La Palma Telescope. Their initial approximation of the ...

Big and Bright Asteroid to Pass by Earth June 14

Jun 14, 2012

An unusually large and bright near-Earth asteroid was recently discovered and it will make its closest approach to Earth on June 14 at about 23:10 UTC. The object is so bright, the Slooh Observatory will attempt ...

Prometheus practices its pull

Feb 10, 2014

Lit by eerie, reflected light from Saturn's F ring (and a casting a faint shadow through a haze of icy "mist") Saturn's moon Prometheus can be seen in the raw image above, captured by Cassini's narrow-angle ...

Recommended for you

Getting to the root of the problem in space

2 hours ago

When we go to Mars, will astronauts be able to grow enough food there to maintain a healthy diet? Will they be able to produce food in NASA's Orion spacecraft on the year-long trip to Mars? How about growing ...

The difference between CMEs and solar flares

4 hours ago

This is a question we are often asked: what is the difference between a coronal mass ejection (CME) and a solar flare? We discussed it in a recent astrophoto post, but today NASA put out a video with amazing graphics that explain ...

Scientific instruments of Rosetta's Philae lander

4 hours ago

When traveling to far off lands, one packs carefully. What you carry must be comprehensive but not so much that it is a burden. And once you arrive, you must be prepared to do something extraordinary to make ...

How ancient impacts made mining practical

6 hours ago

About 1.85 billion years ago, in what would come to be known as Sudbury Canada, a 10 kilometer wide asteroid struck with such energy that it created an impact crater 250 kilometers wide. Today the chief industry of Sudbury ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Z99
not rated yet Apr 22, 2014
Fluff piece.
Wanna see it? solarsystemscope.com be sure to adjust settings for realism and fast foward.