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


The angle covered by the diameter of the full moon is about 31 arcmin or 1/2°, for this reason astronomers would certainly say the Moon's angular diameter is 31 arcmin, or the Moon subtends an angle of 31 arcmin. 


If you expand your hand come arm's length, you can use your fingers to estimate angular distances and sizes in the sky. Your index finger is about 1° and also the distance across your palm is around 10°.


The Small-Angle Formula

The angular sizes of objects present how much of the sky an object appears come cover. Angular dimension does not, however, speak anything about the actual dimension of one object. If you expand your arm while looking at the full moon, friend can fully cover the moon through your thumb, yet of course, the moon is much bigger than your thumb, the only shows up smaller due to the fact that of that is distance. How large an object appears depends not just on that is size, but likewise on that is distance. The evident size, the actual size of one object, and the distance to the object deserve to be related by the tiny angle formula:

D = θ d / 206,265

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


A details telescope on planet can see details as little as 2 arcsec. What is the biggest distance you can see details as tiny the the height of a usual 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 not be able to see an astronaut go on the moon. (In fact, no earth based telescope could.)

Practice Questions

The average distance come the Moon is about 384,000 km. The Moon subtends and also angle of 31 arcminutes, or around 1/2°.

You are watching: How many arc minutes are in a full circle

See more: Avast Full Virus Scan Stuck At 30 %, Full Scan Gets Stuck At 30%

Use this information and the small-angle formula to find the diameter the the moon in kilometers.At what distance would certainly you have to hold a 4 minutes 1 (which has actually a diameter of about 2.5 cm) for it come subtend and angle the 1°?


The diameter that the Moon is around 3,463 kmYou would need to hold it at a street of 1.43 meters.