What Is the Barycenter in Space?

The barycenter in space is the technical term that refers to the center of the area in which two objects orbit. The Earth does not actually orbit the Sun itself – it orbits the center of the mass between the planet and the Sun, which is roughly the center of the sun.

Calculating the barycenter between two objects in space is generally a matter of determining the point in which the mass of an object could be supported evenly.

Since the Sun is so much larger than the Earth, the center of the mass between them would be near the center of the Sun. However, for a larger planet like Jupiter, the barycenter between it and the Sun is further away from the Sun’s center since Jupiter has a larger mass to support.

More about the Earth’s orbit:

  • Earth is roughly 92,956,050 miles (149,598,262 km) away from the Sun.

  • The Moon is calculated to be moving 1.5 inches (3.74 cm) away every year and is likely to not have its barycenter in Earth eventually.

  • It takes the Earth about 365.26 days to completely orbit the Sun.

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