Three minutes After being emitted from the sun's surface, light takes around 8.3 minutes to reach Earth. Light takes around 3 minutes to reach Mercury and 4.15 hours to reach Neptune in our solar system (not the Milky Way, which is our galaxy).
The speed of light is always constant no matter how far away a light source is or what direction it is coming from. So, even though Mercury is almost half as far from the Sun as Earth is, lights on Earth will see them cross each other's paths every three days, just like they would if they were only a few hundred miles apart.
Lights on Earth see Mercury crossing the Sun-Earth line every 108 days, but observers outside Earth's atmosphere would see only the Sun's edge o' the planet during part of this time. Lights on Earth see Neptune taking 4.15 years to orbit the Sun, but astronomers watching from beyond Nepture's atmosphere would see it only every 165 years.
Lights on Earth see Jupiter occupying the same position in the sky as Venus does for about two months each year, but visitors from outside our solar system would never see either planet because they are both inside Earth's shadow when they are in transit across the face of the Sun.
Lights on Earth see Saturn lying directly opposite the Sun from Earth every single night for nearly half of its orbit.
Light takes 8.3 minutes to get from the Sun to the Earth (a distance of 1.58 x 10-5 light-years). The Earth travels half this distance in one day, so one light year is about 9.46 x 1012 miles or 5.90 x 10^13 km.
This is not a very large distance but it does add up over time. If you started counting at first light year on the morning of January 1, 2000 and stopped counting at exactly 12:00 midnight that night, you would have already reached the Earth's circumference around itself!
A light year is defined as the distance that light travels in one year: 6,500,000,000 m/s or 0.00000000000064 pc. At this speed, it would take light 100 million years to travel from the Sun to Earth. The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is approximately 150 million miles or 24 billion meters, so we are quite close to them.
In reality, the Earth is moving too, so we are actually traveling toward the Sun at about 30 km/s but this is extremely small compared to the speed of light.
Photons released from the Sun's surface must traverse the vacuum of space to reach our sight. The quick answer is that sunlight travels from the sun to the earth in an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds. But due to atmospheric effects, such as clouds and water vapor, some of these photons get scattered or absorbed along the way, so actually reaching the ground takes a little longer.
The journey starts with the most direct path between the sun and Earth: straight across the center of the sky. But when you look up at the night sky, you'll see that this line disappears over the horizon because the air has more density near the ground. So instead, let's say that the quickest route between the sun and Earth is at a slight angle, making a circle around the planet. That means some of the sunlight gets blocked by mountains or clouds, and some reaches the ground after traveling a long distance away from the source.
In fact, most of the time, the earth blocks out almost all of the sun's rays! Only when you go into a shadow does some sunlight make its way through. And even then, only that part of the ray travels along a clear path toward the ground.
So overall, yes, it is 8.5 minutes from sunrise to sunrise and 3.5 minutes past sunset to sunset.
The sun is around 150 billion meters (93 million miles) away from Earth. The light will take little more than eight minutes to get from the sun to the earth. During this time, the moon will have moved half way across the sky.
The sun is a huge hot body that emits light and other radiation that keeps Earth's climate warm enough for life. It also produces rain when clouds form in its atmosphere. The solar wind flows out from the sun at over 500 kilometers per second (310 miles per second), making it one of the fastest things in the universe. When this flow reaches Earth, it causes the magnetosphere to bulge out in front of it like a bubble, creating the northern and southern lights.
The sun goes through an 11-year cycle of activity. It is currently in its quiet period, but will become more active as it moves into a new cycle. When it does, there will be more ultraviolet radiation from stars such as the sun, which will cause mutations in any living organisms that cannot protect themselves. These mutations can lead to death for those species that do not adapt genetically to survive them. Humans are adapted to live with the sun's energy so they do not die when it is very active or very quiet.
The earth's orbit is elliptical, not circular.
Time can vary by around 16 minutes depending on the relative locations of Earth and the target planet in their orbits; Earth can be 8 light-minutes closer to the Sun or 8 light-minutes further away. The most recent estimate is that Earth moves closer to the Sun at a rate of 3.50 × 10^−6 km per day, or 7.20 × 10^−3 mm per hour.
The Earth's distance from the Sun varies over time due to gravitational interactions with other planets and solar objects. On average, the Earth is about 93 million miles from the Sun. But at some times it is much closer than that, while at other times it is far away. The closest approach occurs in January when we are approximately 955,000 miles from the Sun. At this distance, the sunlight takes about 1 year to reach us because all of the sun's energy is spread out over an area of space that is larger than the Earth. The next close approach will not happen until 2044.
Perihelion occurs when Earth is closest to the Sun.