How did astronomers originally calculate the distance between the earth and the sun?

1 Answer
Jul 14, 2016

What we actually measure is the distance from the Earth to some other body, such as Venus. Then we use what we know about the relations between interplanetary distances to scale that to the Earth-Sun distance.


Since 1961, we have been able to use radar to measure interplanetary distances - we transmit a radar signal at another planet (or moon or asteroid) and measure how long it takes for the radar echo to return. Before radar, astronomers had to rely on other (less direct) geometric method.