Take a Journey of Discovery with RXTE - Classroom Activity

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Distances in Space

There are many units of distance that are used to measure astronomical distances.

The distance light travels in one year is called a light year. We use light years to describe the distances of nearby stars. A parsec is 3.26 light years. Astronomers use this unit of distance more frequently than the light year. Far away black holes and even more distant galaxies are kiloparsecs away. "Kilo" means 1000, so a kiloparsec is 1000 parsecs. The Galactic Center is about 8 kiloparsecs away.