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Earth Space Science

Astronomers Fix the Astronomical Unit 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-changed-the-oil dept.
gbrumfiel writes "The Astronomical Unit (AU) is known to most as the distance between the Earth and the Sun. In fact, the official definition was a much more complex mathematical calculation involving angular measurements, hypothetical bodies, and the Sun's mass. That old definition created problems: due to general relativity, the length of the AU changed depending on an observer's position in the solar system. And the mass of the Sun changes over time, so the AU was changing as well. At the International Astronomical Union's latest meeting, astronomers unanimously voted on a new simplified definition: exactly 149,597,870,700 meters. Nobody need panic, the earth's distance from the sun remains just as it was, regardless of whether it's in AUs, meters, or smoots."
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Astronomers Fix the Astronomical Unit

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