How to Use Your Hand to Measure Astronomical Distances

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measure astronomical distance with your hands

The system of angular measurement used by astronomers is based on divisions of the circle. The circle is divided into 360 degrees. Degrees are divided into 60 minutes of arc, or arc minutes, and each minute is divided into 60 arc seconds.
The accompanying illustration shows how you can use your hand to make rough estimates of angular sizes. At arm’s length, your little finger is about 1 degree across, your fist is about 10 degrees across, etc.


(via Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

Image Credit

NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

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