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Unit system astronomical
Unit of length
Symbol pc
Unit conversions
1 pc in ... ... is equal to ...
SI units 3.0857×1016 m
Imperial/US unit(s) 1.9174×1013 mi
Astronomical unit(s) 2.0626×105 au

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Metric Conversion
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Hectometre [hm]
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Metre [m]
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Nautical Conversion
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Astronomical Conversion
Parsec [pc]
Light Year
Astronomical Unit [AE]
Light Minute
Light Second

A parsec is a unit of length used to measure large distances to objects outside the Solar System. One parsec is the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one arcsecond. A parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years (31 trillion kilometres or 19 trillion miles) in length.

The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is about 1.3 parsecs (4.2 light-years) from the Sun. Most of the stars visible to the unaided eye in the nighttime sky are within 500 parsecs of the Sun.

The parsec unit was likely first suggested in 1913 by the British astronomer Herbert Hall Turner. Named from an abbreviation of the parallax of one arcsecond, it was defined so as to make calculations of astronomical distances quick and easy for astronomers from only their raw observational data. Partly for this reason, it is still the unit preferred in astronomy and astrophysics, though the light-year remains prominent in popular science texts and everyday usage.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Parsec", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.