An astrophysicist explains why even if you were right next to the Voyager probes 15 billion miles from the sun you could still see them – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

An astrophysicist explains why even if you were right next to the Voyager probes 15 billion miles from the sun you could still see them

The Voyager probes are floating indefinitely through space, reaching further than any other space mission.


Reddit users asked: If you were in space near the Voyager probes, would you be able to see them?
An astrophysicist told us that the sun would be bright enough for to see that far out in space.
It would be so bright, in fact, that you could probably read a book. 

When Voyager 1 launched in 1977, it began an indefinite journey into space, serving as an envoy for humankind. Today, it’s the farthest human-made object from Earth, traveling over 15 billion miles from the sun in interstellar space.

If you were out there, where everything we know is so far away and life itself is foreign, would you even be within the influence of our sun? From such a distance, could you actually see anything out there, or is it all eternal blackness?

A user on the forum Reddit asked that very question: If we were somehow able to stand next to Voyager 1 in space, would we be able to see it? 

Yes, you can easily see Voyager 1 if you were traveling next to it

We asked Michael Zemcov, an experimental astrophysicist and professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, to explain it, so you don’t have to dust off your calculator to do the math yourself. 

“Oh, gosh, that’s, so this is a really interesting question,” Zemcov told Insider.

To start, he said even though both Voyager 1 and 2 are way out in space, beyond all major planets, it’s still pretty bright. 

The probes have reached beyond most major planets, reaching the section known as interstellar space.


He took us through the math for Voyager 1.  

First, you must compare Voyager’s distance to the distance between Earth and the sun. Then, you use that distance to calculate what the light intensity would be that far away from the sun.

This leaves you with an estimate of about 25,000 times fainter than the brightness during the day on Earth. That’s still about 15 times brighter than the light Earth gets during a full moon on a clear night, Zemcov said.

In that much light, you would definitely be able to see the side of the probe facing the sun in detail, though you might not be able to see all of its colors, he said. 

Further, you’d probably be able to read a book out there. 

You could still see Voyager 100 years from now

Even as Voyager 1 continues traveling into space, the probe will still be illuminated for quite a while, since the sun’s sphere of influence is so massive.

As the probes keep going indefinitely, deeper and deeper into space, they’ll probably still be in range of the sun’s light for hundreds if not thousands of years, Zemcov said. 

The distance the Voyager probes have already gone is staggering. But in terms of the cosmos, Zemcov said there’s still a lot farther to go.

“The point is, in terms of that distance, like Voyager has hardly gotten anywhere.” 

Correction: October 19, 2023 — An earlier version of this article misstated the status of Voyager 1’s journey. The craft is traveling in interstellar space and is not in orbit around the sun.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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