Comparing the Distance of the Solar System’s Moons
Written by Colin Devroe · 6 March 2014
Our moon is roughly 239,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. How far is that when compared to the all of the moons of our neighboring planets in the Solar System? We weren’t sure so we thought we’d take the time to figure that out.
Some of our neighboring planets, such as Saturn and Jupiter, have over 60 moons each while Neptune and Uranus have a few dozen. So we took the liberty of only comparing the largest 4 moons from each planet.
Here is the result.
As you can tell from the graphic above (which isn’t perfectly to scale by any stretch of the imagination), most of our Solar System’s largest moons are — relatively speaking — fairly equidistant from their planets as our own moon is from ours. Meaning, if all of those moons were ours… it’d be mightily crowded between 200,000 and 500,000 miles up.
Nereid, a moon of Neptune, is far and away the moon most distant in our list. However, its orbit ranges from 1M and 9.6M miles. So, in reality, during its entire orbit Nereid will range from being the furthest away to only about the 8th most distant moon. Also, if Nereid were our moon, it’d be halfway between Earth and Venus — which is about 23.6M miles away.
Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars, would be incredibly close to Earth in comparison to our own moon. Fortunately, the size of these two moons are rather minuscule. They’d look like unimpressive asteroids floating around up there.
Here is the raw data we collected for the graphic above:
- Earth to Moon: 238,900 miles
- Mars to Phobos: 5,827 miles
- Mars to Deimos: 14,576 miles
- Jupiter to IO: 262,219 miles
- Jupiter to Europa: 416,940 miles
- Jupiter Ganymede: 664,867 miles
- Jupiter to Callisto: 1,170,042 miles
- Saturn to Calypso: 183,093 miles
- Saturn to Titan: 759,222 miles
- Saturn to Dione: 234,505 miles
- Saturn to Phoebe: 8,049,668 miles
- Neptune to Triton: 220,437 miles
- Neptune to Nereid: ranges from 1M to 9,653,041 miles
- Neptune to Naiad: 29,958 miles
- Neptune to Thalassa: 31,108 miles
- Uranus to Ariel: 118,831 miles
- Uranus to Umbriel: 165,266 miles
- Uranus to Titania: 270,818 miles
- Uranus to Oberon: 362,010 miles
We hope to do more with this data at a later date. Even, perhaps, developing a visualization similar to Ron Millers’s work showcasing how our neighboring planets would look if they were as close to Earth as the moon is.