The Size of Earthly Surfaces Directly Under Different Space Objects

By Jamie Condliffe on at

If you've ever wondered how much of the Earth's surface actually sits directly beneath the Sun at any given moment, then you probably also gave up on the maths pretty quickly. Luckily, Randall Munroe didn't.

If you draw lines from the edge of an object in space straight to the center of Earth, there's an angular size traced out on the planet which, depending on the object in question, might surprise you. So the Sun and Moon both cover a patch about the same size as the M25, whereas Phobos covers a ping pong table.

Perhaps most mind boggling, though, is that fact that Voyager 1 and 2 cover a spot about the same size as an E. Coli bacterium. Huh. Check out Munroe's full graphic below, or over at XKCD. [XKCD]

The Size of Earthly Surfaces Directly Under Different Space Objects