Astronomers usage angular measure to describe the apparent size of things in the night sky. An angle is the opening between two currently that accomplish at a point and angular measure explains the size of an edge in degrees, designated by the prize °. A complete circle is separated into 360° and also a best angle procedures 90°. One level can be separated into 60 arcminutes (abbreviated 60 arcmin or 60'). One arcminute can also be separated into 60 arcseconds (abbreviated 60 arcsec or 60"). 


The angle spanned by the diameter of the full moon is around 31 arcmin or 1/2°, so astronomers would certainly say the Moon's angular diameter is 31 arcmin, or the Moon subtends an angle of 31 arcmin. 


If you extend your hand come arm's length, you have the right to use her fingers to calculation angular distances and also sizes in the sky. Your index finger is about 1° and the distance across your palm is about 10°.


The Small-Angle Formula

The angular size of objects show how much of the sky things appears to cover. Angular dimension does not, however, to speak anything around the actual size of one object. If you extend your arm while looking in ~ the full moon, you can totally cover the moon with your thumb, however of course, the moon is much bigger than your thumb, that only appears smaller since of its distance. How huge an object appears depends not only on the size, but likewise on that distance. The evident size, the actual size of an object, and also the street to the object deserve to be related by the tiny angle formula:

D = θ d / 206,265

D = linear size of one objectθ = angular size of the object, in arcsecd = street to the object


A details telescope on earth can check out details as small as 2 arcsec. What is the greatest distance you might see details as small the the elevation of a typical person (1.6 m)?

d = 206,265 D / θ = 206,265 × 1.6 m / 2 = 165,012 m = 165.012 km

This is much less than the street to the Moon (approximately 384,000 km) therefore this telescope would certainly not be able to see an astronaut wade on the moon. (In fact, no planet based telescope could.)

Practice Questions

The median distance to the Moon is approximately 384,000 km. The Moon subtends and angle of 31 arcminutes, or around 1/2°.

You are watching: How many arcminutes are in a full circle?

See more: Now The Righteous Gemstones Season 1 Episode 6 Recap, The Righteous Gemstones

Usage this information and the small-angle formula to find the diameter that the moon in kilometers.At what distance would certainly you need to hold a quarter (which has actually a diameter of about 2.5 cm) because that it to subtend and angle that 1°?


The diameter that the Moon is about 3,463 kmYou would need to hold it in ~ a distance of 1.43 meters.