A Sense of Scale

A Visual Comparison of Various Distances

Thanks to Tim Talbert for providing some of the data.

Much better version here.

Also see a similar page on Wikipedia.


1.616x10-35 m1.616x10-35 mthe Planck length (the smallest measurement of length that has meaning)


1x10-15 m1x10-15 mone fermi
1 fm1x10-15 mdiameter of proton (in the nucleus)
2.2 fm2.2x10-15 mclassical diameter of neutron
3.8 fm3.8x10-15 mdiameter of the nucleus of a helium atom
5.635882 fm5.635882x10-15 mclassical diameter of an electron
7.2 fm7.2x10-15 mdiameter of the nucleus of an aluminum atom
14 fm1.4x10-14 mdiameter of the nucleus of a gold atom

(The classical electron diameter is bigger than the proton diameter because the proton's size was measured in the nucleus, where it is trapped in a very deep, narrow potential well. The electron is in a comparatively wide, shallow well, so it takes up much more space. Talking about the sizes of subatomic particles is fairly meaningless anyway; in one sense, electrons and protons are point particles, with no size. And in quantum mechanics, we can only talk about the probability of finding a particle at a particular point, and cannot specify (or define) the exact position and size of a particle. The "classical electron radius" tells us little about the actual physical size of the electron. In short, I'm oversimplifying things.)



14 fm1.4x10-14 mdiameter of the nucleus of a gold atom
1,000 fm1x10-12 mone picometer
1 pm1x10-12 mwavelength of gamma rays


1 pm1x10-12 mwavelength of gamma rays
38 pm3.8x10-11 mdiameter of flourine ion
52.9 pm5.29x10-11 mmost likely distance from electron to nucleus in a hydrogen atom (bohr radius)
74.13 pm7.413x10-11 mdistance between bonded hydrogen atoms
100 pm1x10-10 mone angstrom
120 pm1.2x10-10 mVan Der Waals radius of hydrogen atoms (max distance between atoms that are not bonded)
200 pm2x10-10 mresolution (size of smallest visible object) of a transmission electron microscope
248.2 pm2.482x10-10 mdistance between bonded iron atoms
275 pm2.75x10-10 mVan Der Waals radius of potassium atoms (max distance between atoms that are not bonded)
282 pm3x10-10 mdiameter of water molecule
340 pm3.4x10-10 mdistance between base pairs in a DNA molecule
380 pm3.8x10-10 mdiameter of xenon ion
530.9 pm5.309x10-10 mdistance between bonded cesium atoms


530.9 pm5.309x10-10 mdistance between bonded cesium atoms
1,000 pm1x10-9 mone nanometer
1 nm1x10-9 mdiameter of glucose molecule
2 nm2x10-9 mdiameter of DNA helix
5 nm5x10-9 mdiameter of insulin molecule
6 nm6x10-9 mdiameter of a hemoglobin molecule
10 nm1x10-8 mthickness of cell wall (gram negative bacteria)
75 nm7.5x10-8 msize of typical virus
90 nm9x10-8 mlength of transistor gate in a Pentium 4 chip (minimum feature size)
125 nm1.25x10-7 mthickness of gold leaf
130 nm1.3x10-7 mlength of transistor gate in a Pentium 3 chip (1.4 Ghz)
200 nm2x10-7 mdiameter of smallest bacteria
200 nm2x10-7 mresolution (size of smallest visible object) of an optical microscope


260 nm2.6x10-7 mlength of the smallest transistor in a Pentium 3 chip
410 nm4.1x10-7 mwavelength of violet light
680 nm6.8x10-7 mwavelength of red light
1,000 nm1x10-6 mone micrometer (micron)
1 m1x10-6 msize of typical bacterium
1 m1x10-6 mdiameter of sperm cell
1.5 m1.5x10-6 mlength of transistor gate in an Intel 286 chip
1.7 m1.7x10-6 mdiameter of average human cell nucleus
2.4 m2.4x10-6 mthickness of red blood cell
3 m3x10-6 mlength of transistor gate in an Intel 8086 chip
4 m4x10-6 mdiameter of capillary
7 m7x10-6 mdiameter of a single yeast organism
8.4 m8.4x10-6 mdiameter of red blood cell
10 m1x10-5 mdiameter of average cell in human body
10 m1x10-5 msize of a grain of talcum powder
16 m1.6x10-5 mlength of the smallest transistor in the first 6502 chips


16 m1.6x10-5 mlength of the smallest transistor in the first 6502 chips
20 m2x10-5 mlength of the smallest transistor in an Intel 4004 (the first microprocessor)
20 m2.0x10-5 mdiameter of a small grain of sand
25 m2.5x10-5 mlength of sperm cell
25 m2.5x10-5 mdiameter of a human hair
83.82 m8.382x10-5 mtypical thickness of a piece of paper
100 m1x10-4 mmimimum size of object the human eye can resolve unaided
100 m1x10-4 mdiameter of human fertilized egg cell
100 m1x10-4 msize of a grain of salt
110 m1.1x10-4 mthickness of a dollar bill
300 m3x10-4 mdiameter of a period on a typewriter
375 m3.7x10-4 mdiameter of the most common type of optical fiber
750 m7.5x10-4 msize of largest known bacterium
1,000 m1x10-3 mone millimeter
1.7 mm1.7x10-3 mdiameter of the head of the average pin
2 mm2x10-3 mdiameter of a large grain of sand


2 mm2x10-3 mdiameter of a large grain of sand
2 mm2x10-3 msize of a small ant
4.234 mm4.234x10-3 mheight of a line of text in 12-point type
10 mm1x10-2 mone centimeter
1.7 cm1.7x10-2 mwavelength of 20khz note (highest that can be heard) at 27 degrees celsius
2.5 cm2.5x10-2 msize of a large ant
2.54 cm2.540x10-2 mone inch
8.5 cm8.5x10-2 mlength of largest human chromosome if it were stretched end-to-end
12.2 cm1.22x10-1 mwavelength of microwaves in a microwave oven
30 cm3.0x10-1 mone foot
79 cm7.9x10-1 mwavelength of 440 hertz note (A above middle C) at 27 degrees celsius
91 cm9.1x10-1 mone yard
1 m1 mone meter


1 m1 mone meter
3 m3 maverage wavelength of FM radio waves
17 m1.7x101 mwavelength of 20 hertz note (lowest that can be heard) at 27 degrees celsius
299.7925 m2.997925x102 mdistance light travels in one microsecond, in a vacuum
343 m3.43x102 mdistance sound travels in one second (at 20 degress celsius)
415 m4.1x102 mdistance a bullet travels per second, when fired from a .22


415 m4.1x102 mdistance a bullet travels per second, when fired from a .22
1,000 m1x103 mone kilometer
1.609344 km1.609344x103 mone mile
4.3 km4.3x103 mthickness of Greenland ice cap, at thickest point
4.47 km4.47x103 mgreatest measured thickness of antarctic ice cap
8.85 km8.85x103 mheight of Mount Everest
10.294 km1.0294x104 mdepth of Marianas Trench
11 km1.1x104 maverage height of top of troposphere (layer of atmosphere affected by weather)
29.78 km2.978x104 mdistance the earth travels per second in its orbit
48 km4.8x104 maverage height of top of stratosphere (layer of atmosphere containing ozone; free of weather, good for flying)
50 km5x104 mdepth of earth's crust
60 km6x104 mthickness of ozone layer
80 km8x104 mheight of ionosphere (ionized region which reflects radio waves)
80 km8x104 maverage height of top of mesosphere (strong currents, unstable, bad for flying)
160 km1x105 m100 miles
299.7925 km2.997925x105 mdistance light travels in one millisecond, in a vacuum


299.7925 km2.997925x105 mdistance light travels in one millisecond, in a vacuum
300 km3x105 mheight of space shuttle's typical orbit
354 km3.54x105 maverage altitude of International Space Station
640 km6.4x105 mheight of lowest point of inner Van Allen belt
792 km7.92x105 maltitude of Iridium satellites (LEO)
825 km8.25x105 maltitude of Orbcomm satellites (LEO)
914 km9.14x105 mdiameter of the asteroid Ceres
1,000 km1x106 mthickness of earth's atmosphere
1,375 km1.375x106 mheight of Teledesic (low-earth orbit) satellites
1,414 km1.414x106 maltitude of Globalstar satellites (LEO)
2,274 km2.274x106 mdiameter of Pluto at its equator
2,890 km2.89x106 mdepth of earth's outer (liquid) core
3,474.8 km3.4748x106 mdiameter of moon
3,962 km3.962x106 mdistance from New York to Los Angeles
4,879.4 km4.8794x106 mdiameter of Mercury at its equator
5,150 km5.150x106 mdiameter of Titan


5,150 km5.150x106 mdiameter of Titan
5,150 km5.15x106 mdepth of earth's inner (solid) core
5,200 km5.2x106 mheight of highest point of outer Van Allen belt
5,262 km5.262x106 mdiameter of Ganymede
5,613 km5.613x106 mdistance from New York to London
6,378.14 km6.37814x106 mdistance to center of Earth
6,794.4 km6.7944x106 mdiameter of Mars at its equator
9,084 km9.084x106 mdistance from London to Los Angeles
9,380 km9.38x106 mmean distance from Phobos to Mars
10,390 km1.039x107 maltitude of ICO satellites (MEO)
12,103 km1.2103x107 mdiameter of Venus at its equator
12,756.2 km1.27562x107 mdiameter of Earth at its equator
20,200 km2.02x107 maltitude of GPS satellites
23,460 km2.346x107 mmean distance from Deimos to Mars
35,800 km3.58x107 mheight of satellite in geostationary orbit
47,810 km4.781x107 mmin initial altitude of Geotail satellite (VHO)


47,810 km4.781x107 mmin initial altitude of Geotail satellite (VHO)
49,492 km4.9492x107 mdiameter of Neptune at its equator
51,118 km5.1118x107 mdiameter of Uranus at its equator
120,536 km1.2053x108 mdiameter of Saturn at its equator
142,984 km1.4298x108 mdiameter of Jupiter at its equator
299,792.5 km2.997925x108 mdistance light travels in one second, in a vacuum
384,400 km3.844x108 mmean distance from earth to moon
868,912 km8.68912x108 mmax initial altitude of Geotail satellite (VHO)
1,070,000 km1.07x109 mmean distance from Jupiter to Ganymede
1,221,850 km1.22185x109 mmean distance from Saturn to Titan
1,390,000 km1.39x109 mdiameter of sun at its equator
1,500,000 km1.5x109 mdistance to SOHO satellite (L1 Lagrange point)


1,500,000 km1.5x109 mdistance to SOHO satellite (L1 Lagrange point)
17,987,550 km1.798755x1010 mdistance light travels in one minute, in a vacuum
57,910,000 km5.791x1010 mmean distance of Mercury from the sun
108,200,000 km1.082x1011 mmean distance of Venus from the sun
1 AU1.4959787x1011 mmean distance of Earth from the sun (one astronomical unit)
1.5236 AU2.2794x1011 mmean distance of Mars from the sun
2.766 AU4.139x1011 mmean distance of the asteroid Ceres from the sun
5.2028 AU7.7833x1011 mmean distance of Jupiter from the sun
7.2143607 AU1.079253x1012 mdistance light travels in one hour, in a vacuum


7.2143607 AU1.079253x1012 mdistance light travels in one hour, in a vacuum
9.5549 AU1.4294x1012 mmean distance of Saturn from the sun
19.1913 AU2.87099x1012 mmean distance of Uranus from the sun
30.109 AU4.5043x1012 mmean distance of Neptune from the sun
34 AU5.2x1012 mmaximum distance of Halley's Comet from the sun
39.5294 AU5.91352x1012 mmean distance of Pluto from the sun
43.8 AU6.56x1012 mdistance of QB1 object from Sun
62.32 AU9.323x1012 mcurrent distance of Voyager 2 from sun (as of 10/27/00)
79.125 AU1.1837x1013 mcurrent distance of Voyager 1 from sun (as of 10/27/00)
80 AU1x1013 mtermination shock--point at which solar wind becomes subsonic
134 AU2.0x1013 mheliopause (outer edge of Sun's magnetic field)
134 AU2.01x1013 mdistance of 1996 TL66 object from Sun
173.14464 AU2.590207x1013 mdistance light travels in one day, in a vacuum
372 AU5.56x1013 mmaximum distance of comet Hale-Bopp from the sun
1,212.0125 AU1.813145x1014 mdistance light travels in one week, in a vacuum


1,212.0125 AU1.813145x1014 mdistance light travels in one week, in a vacuum
25,000 AU3.7x1015 mpossible distance of Sol B from Sun
63,239.737 AU9.460530x1015 mdistance light travels in one year (one light-year)
1.5 ly1.4x1016 mpossible edge of Oort cloud
3.26 ly3.08x1016 mone parsec
4.22 ly3.99x1016 mdistance to the star Proxima Centauri (nearest star other than sun)
4.3 ly4.1x1016 mdistance to the stars Alpha Centauri A and B
8.6 ly8.1x1016 mdistance to the star Sirius


8.6 ly8.1x1016 mdistance to the star Sirius
25.2 ly2.39x1017 mdistance to the star Vega
33 ly3.2x1017 mdistance to the star Pollux
36 ly3.5x1017 mdistance to the star Arcturus
51 ly4.9x1017 mdistance to the star Castor
77 ly7.3x1017 mdistance to the star Regulus
300 ly2x1018 mthickness of Milky Way Galaxy
430 ly4.0x1018 mdistance to the star Polaris
1.6 kly1.5x1019 mdistance to Horsehead Nebula


1.6 kly1.5x1019 mdistance to Horsehead Nebula
20 kly1x1020 mdiameter of Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy
27 kly2.6x1020 mdistance to center of Milky Way Galaxy
44 kly4.2x1020 mdiameter of M33 galaxy
162 kly1.54x1021 mdiameter of Milky Way Galaxy
200 kly1x1021 mdistance to Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy
200 kly1x1021 mdiameter of M31 galaxy
300 kly2x1021 mdistance to Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy


300 kly2x1021 mdistance to Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy
2,200 kly2.0x1022 mdistance to Andromeda galaxy
3,000 kly2x1022 mdistance to Pisces galaxy
4,000 kly3x1022 mdistance to IC 10 galaxy
5,000 kly4x1022 mdistance to Pegasus galaxy
11,000 kly1.0x1023 mdistance to the M81 galaxy cluster
15,000 kly1.4x1023 mdistance to the M83 galaxy
27,000 kly2.5x1023 mdistance to the M101 galaxy
35,000 kly3.3x1023 mdistance to the M66 galaxy cluster
37,000 kly3.5x1023 mdistance to the M51 galaxy cluster
38,000 kly3.5x1023 mdistance to the M95 galaxy
41,000 kly3.8x1023 mdistance to the M96 galaxy
60,000 kly5x1023 mdistance to the Virgo galaxy cluster


60,000 kly5x1023 mdistance to the Virgo galaxy cluster
340,000 kly3.2x1024 mdistance to the Coma galaxy cluster
2,000,000 kly1x1025 mdistance to brightest quasar (3C 273)
4,000,000 kly3x1025 mdistance to quasar 3C 48
26,000,000 kly2.4x1026 mdistance to farthest known object (quasar SDSS_1044_0125)



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