How Fast Does the Sun Move?

March 26, 2009
Sunlight From Space

The Sun Moves Ver-r-r-y Slowly

The Sun is the center of our solar system, but it doesn't stay in one place.

It orbits around the center of our Milky Way galaxy, which is about 28,000 light–years away. (A light-year is about 5.88 trillion miles.) It takes the Sun about 226 million years to go around the galaxy once!

The Sun rotates on its axis in the same direction as Earth (counterclockwise, when looking down from the north pole). Because the Sun is gaseous, different sections rotate at different speeds.

At the surface, the area around the equator rotates once about every 25 days. The Sun's north and south poles rotate more slowly. It can take those areas more than 30 days to complete one rotation.

The Sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
–Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer (1564–1642)

See more facts about your Sun!


The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids, Volume 2

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I don't know if you can be of

I don't know if you can be of help or not, but I would appreciate whatever you might be able to offer.  I seem to remember an astronomy article from a l-o-n-g ago OF's Almanac issue that described, perhaps depicted, the realistic distances between the planets of our solar system in a way that would help an everyday reader understand just exactly how far these distances actually were. It was a practical description, analogous to understanding the "distance equivalence scale" that one sees on a wall map of a really large area; ex: 1 inch=50 miles, etc. etc. I remember the article suggesting,for instance, that if you were in a room which represented Earth, then the moon would be across the way where the other wall was. The distance from Earth to Mars then, would mean that you would have to go outside and look down the sidewalk to the end of your city block. To Jupiter, one would then have to keep walking to the half-mile mark, and so forth and so forth. . . I would REALLY like to find which back issue of the OF's Almanac that this truly interesting, very helpful, and practical article was printed in. Would appreciate whatever assistance that you might be able to provide. Thank-You. Sincerely, Harris C. McGuire, Wichita, KS 67213

Hmm. At this point, we could

The Editors's picture

Hmm. At this point, we could not find the article that you mention. The closest would be "How Old Is the Starlight You'll See Tonight?" by Frederick F. Bird on pages 40-41 in The 1983 Old Farmer's Almanac. It gives a list of some of the brighter stars that we can see, and what happened on Earth when the light left that star to reach us in 1983 (date of article). It also gives a simple sketch of a star map with these major stars listed. If we come across an article that is closer to what you have described, we'll post the title/author/publication year here. Thank you for your interest in The Old Farmer's Almanac!