|≈||approximately equal to|
|digits||indicates that digits repeat infinitely (e.g. 8.294 369 corresponds to 8.294 369 369 369 369 …)|
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.
A fathom is a unit of length in the imperial and the U.S. customary systems equal to 6 feet (1.8288 metres), used especially for measuring the depth of water.
There are two yards (6 feet) in an imperial fathom. Originally the span of a man's outstretched arms, the size of a fathom has varied slightly depending on whether it was defined as a thousandth of an (Admiralty) nautical mile or as a multiple of the imperial yard. Formerly, the term was used for any of several units of length varying around 5–5 1⁄2 feet.