Why do astronomers try to find the distance to stars using parallax?

I was simply wondering why it's important for us to know how far away stars are....

Thanks!

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There are many ways to measure how far away stars are. Parallax is the most accurate of them all. Unfortunately, parallax is also the one that is the most limited in distance.

    The reference below lists a whole bunch of these methods.

    You ask about importance. In specific way, there is no importance, knowing how far away a star is does not put food on your table or cure you of a disease. However, humans have an instinct to want to know everything they can about nature. Astronomy is very big, and yet is part of nature.

    Knowledge pays off. For thousands of years, for instance, people have been interested in astronomy because it helped people to know what time of year it was and that was important so that people could plant the seeds they saved from the previous year to get the best crop without wasting the seeds. Plant at the wrong time of year, and you've made a big mistake.

    So having knowledge is part of survival. Our instinct is to know more and more.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You could ask why do zoologists and biologists study chromosomes? or why do geologists take core samples. It is the duty of scientists to expand human knowledge and understand, and stellar parallax is a way of understanding how the heavens work. Some have said "in science, there is only physics, All the rest is stamp collecting". Which is true in a way. We dont NEED to know how far stars are, and we dont NEED stellar paralax, but in the quest for knowledge, we WANT to use it. Most of what we figure out in science is unimportant, but sometimes someone figures out a theory of relativity or a standard model of quantum mechanics, it might not be important to most of us, but it is there, and it is pretty cool. As for practical applications, perhaps we want to know which stars are closest, so we can send a probe towards them. Or maybe stellar parallax can tell us more about redshifts. Maybe it's just a fun way to figure the motion of the galazy.

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  • Cirric
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Hi. Parallax is a measurement instead of a guesstimate. Knowing the actual distance gives us a standard we can use to determine more distant stars. This is first step in making good estimates of much farther objects. Redshift is another. This allows a good understanding of the size of the visible universe. Pretty important. My opinion.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The most straightforward answer... Because we are a curious sort! :)

    The other answer gives some examples of what we can learn, but the answer is simply "we're curious"...

    They use parallax specifically because it is a very accurate means of measuring distance.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Because it provides us with information about their age and effects on the surrounding universe. If a star is further away, it will seem younger than it is, because the light from the star that was emitted a few years ago hasn't had time to reach us yet.

    With that knowledge, more and more can be discovered about our own corner of the Galaxy as well.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Using parallax is the only way to measure the huge distances that you can't measure it by the normal ways.

    To measure short distances you need such like cables ,wires etc,

    for longer distance you may need light or laser.

    we can say planets in our solar system are in medium distance, because the light reaches from the farther one in about 30 hours.

    but in the huge distances light reaches in a huge time also, like 1000 or 100000 years, so no one can wait that time to measure it.

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  • Lainey
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Because in judging how far away a star is we can make better guesses as to how old it is, what stage it's in and what kind of star it is. We also get a better idea of how big our galaxy is and how stars move in the galaxy.

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  • 1 decade ago

    We use it because it works (within limits), and we choose to do it because we're even more curious than cats!

    Knowing their distance, hence brightness, temperature, etc, allows us to understand many related things about stars and space.

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