The astronomical unit (symbol: au or ua) is a unit of length, roughly the distance from Earth to the Sun. However, that distance varies as Earth orbits the Sun, from a maximum (aphelion) to a minimum (perihelion) and back again once a year. Originally conceived as the average of Earth's aphelion and perihelion, it is now defined as exactly 149 597 870 700 metres (about 150 million kilometres, or 93 million miles). The astronomical unit is used primarily as a convenient yardstick for measuring distances within the Solar System or around other stars. However, it is also a fundamental component in the definition of another unit of astronomical length, the parsec.