Converting Parsecs to Meters

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to convert a parsec measurement to meters. You'll learn the conversion number you need to use to make the conversion and the simple steps to follow.

The Steps

Imagine that you and your astronomer friend are out stargazing. You guys spot a really bright star, and your astronomer friend tells you that particular star is only 6 parsecs away! You say wow! But you have no idea what he is talking about.

Just what is a parsec, anyway? A parsec is a measurement unit astronomers use for stars and planets. It tells them just how far away the stars and planets are from planet Earth. A parsec is abbreviated as pc. 1 parsec is approximately 3.26 light years. 1 light year is how far light travels in 1 year. 1 light year is approximately 9.46 trillion kilometers. Because stars and planets are located so far away, using the parsec measurement makes the numbers more manageable. Instead of having to say that a certain star is located some trillion kilometers or some quadrillion meters away, you can simply say the star is 10 parsecs away.

Your friend sees that you are a bit confused, so he explains these terms to you. Then he tells you that to convert a parsec measurement to meters is actually pretty easy. All you need to do is to follow this step.

Step 1: Multiply your parsec measurement by the conversion number for meters.

That's right. There's only 1 step you need to take. This involves knowing the conversion number for converting parsecs to meters. The number is this.

  • 1 parsec = 30,856,776,000,000,000 meters

All you need to do is to multiply your parsec measurement by 30,856,776,000,000,000 to convert it to meters.

For the 6 parsecs that your astronomer friend mentioned, you convert it to meters by multiplying the 6 parsecs with the conversion number.

  • 6 parsecs * 30,856,776,000,000,000 meters / parsec = 185,140,656,000,000,000 meters

The Solution

So your answer is 185,140,656,000,000,000 meters. That's how far 6 parsecs is away from planet Earth. That's a pretty big distance.

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