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AU - Windows to the Universe

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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This is a drawing of Pluto and its moon Charon.
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Image courtesy of NASA/JPL. This image is in the public domain.

AU

AU stands for Astronomical Units. It is a useful way to measure the distances in interplanetary space. It is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is about 93 million miles.

For reference, Mars is 1.5 AU from the sun, Jupiter is 5 AU from the sun, Pluto is about 39 AU from the sun, the heliopause is about 100 AU away, and the Oort Cloud is about 100,000 AU.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF