Measuring Distance: Triangulation and Standard Candles

Topics: Measurement, Astronomy, Star Pages: 2 (403 words) Published: February 27, 2014


With the help of tape measures and rules small distances in the everyday household are easy to measure. As distances grow bigger so do the devices and ways in which the distance is to be measured. In math rulers make sense as well as Pythagorean Theorem; so what about astronomy? Astronomers have a totally different format of information of which they are studying. It only makes sense that the astronomers would have a totally different way of which they measure. Two measurements astronomers use are triangulation (also known in math) and standard candles. Triangulation by technical terms is the method of determining distance based on the principles of geometry. Any type of math and science are closely related the principles of geometry and triangulation in astronomy are then ideological sound. Triangulation as obvious as it sounds uses triangles. So, using a three sided shape how can we measure distances in outer space? It sounds complicated but really it isn’t. Using the following chart may help with the understanding of triangulation

Triangulation is not the only measurement astronomer’s use. The other is the standard candles way. The standard candle method is the measuring of distance where the use of specific objects’ luminosity is used to measure distance of other objects around them. The specific objects that can be used can range from supernovae and other variable stars. The objects that are used have to be objects that’s luminosity will not alter. Astronomers have objects and their luminosities carefully marked down and know just how to use the specific objects to measure other distances. But why is it called ‘standard candles’? The objects that have specific luminosities that will never alter can be called standard and the fact that the objects have luminosities thus comes the word candles.

Triangulation and Standard Candles are only two methods that I have discussed that are ways astronomers measure distance. To review,...
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