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How Far is a Light-Year?

One light-year (ly) is defined as the distance that light can travel in 1 year. This distance is fixed because light always travels at the same speed—the speed of light, which is 300,000 km/s (186,000 mi/s).
We can calculate the distance represented by a lightyear by recalling that 

Distance = speed x time

For example, if you travel at a speed of 50 km/hr for 2 hours, you will travel 100 km. To find the distance represented by 1 light-year, we simply multiply the speed of light by 1 year:

1 light-year = (speed of light) x (1 yr)

That is, 1 light-year is equivalent to 9.46 trillion km, which is easier to remember as almost 10 trillion km.

BOOK: The Essential Cosmic Perspective with MasteringAstronomy (Sixth Edition) 

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