One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A unit of distance used in astronomy, equal to about 3.26 light years (3.086 × 10¹³ kilometres). One parsec corresponds to the distance at which the mean radius of the earth's orbit subtends an angle of one second of arc.
- ‘But cosmologists are so comfortable with millions and billions that none of them feel the urge to invent a unit much beyond the light-year or the parsec.’
- ‘For reference, one parsec is around three light years.’
- ‘Their absolute magnitude is that of their appearance at 10 parsecs, or 32.6 light-years.’
- ‘The fact remained that the Rage fleet was within a parsec of Nova.’
- ‘I mean, all the ones that I've looked at so far are within 100 parsecs of 300 light years of the Sun.’
Early 20th century: blend of parallax and second.
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