Measurement of distance to stars - Introduction for kids

Since the distance to stars outside the solar system can not be measured using daily life tools, such as a measuring tape or a distanceometer (laser), astronomers use creative methods to measure distance to the stars.

For this purpose, several methods are used. In this brief article, we will discuss two of them:

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1. According to the parallax of stars: corresponds only to about 8000 stars closest to us (trigonometry).

The parallax method is based on the fact that a relatively close object appears to move in relation to the background with the observer's motion - Earth.

In astronomy, the closest objects are the nearby stars to which the observed distance is measured against the stars distant from them. The observer's movement is based on Earth's motion in its orbit.

This movement creates a known and large change in the viewer's position. When Earth is on one side of its orbit, the angle to the star is measured relative to the background stars.

When the Earth is on the other side of the track, repeat the measurement again (usually after 6 months). Based on the observations, the distance in trigonometry is calculated.

2. By comparing an unknown star to a star whose distance is known: Decoding the rays of light from the stars allows them to be classified into several different types - the ABAFGKM spectral types.

The unknown star is first classified by its spectral type and then compared to a star known from the earlier parallax system.

If a star of the same spectral type is assumed to have equal self-brightness, the distance to the star can be determined by the difference between the brightness and the visible brightness.

In this way we can determine, for example, the distance to the Pleiades constellation.

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