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If I make the sphere ten times bigger, the area goes up by 10 × 10 = 100 times, and the brightness drops by 100. So now we’re ready to figure out how bright the Sun is from Pluto!The Earth orbits the Sun, on average, at a distance of about 150 million km.I was thinking about that again recently, and wondered just how bright the Sun does look from Pluto. First, you need to understand how an object like the Sun — really, any source of light — dims with distance.The Sun emits light in all directions, so as you get farther away from the Sun, that light gets spread out.[On January 4, 2012, I started a new features: BAFacts, where I write an astronomy/space fact that is short enough to be tweeted.A lot of them reference older posts, but some of the facts need a little mathematical explanation. ] Today’s BAFact: From Pluto, the Sun is fainter than it is from Earth, but still can be 450x brighter than the full Moon.

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Using the method above, the Sun must be 39 = about 1500 times fainter, or more grammatically correctly, 0.00065 times as bright. To us here at home, the Sun is about 400,000 times brighter than the full Moon, so even from distant, frigid Pluto, on average the Sun would look more than 250 times brighter than the full Moon does from Earth!

Since I doubled the sphere’s diameter, I can figure out how much its dropped, too!

The formula for the surface area of a sphere is Surface area = 4 × π × radius = 4.

So the light passing through each square centimeter of the bigger sphere drops by a factor of four.

Someone standing on that sphere would see the Sun being 1/4 as bright as if they were on the surface.