The astronomical unit (abbreviated variously as AU, au, a.u. or ua) is a unit of length roughly equal to the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun. The currently accepted value of the AU is 1.49597870691 x 1011 (± 3) meters (m), which is approximately 150 million kilometers (km) or 93 million miles. This unit has been particularly useful for calculating the distances of planets and other objects in the Solar System, relative to the Earth's distance from the Sun.
From a Unification perspective, several points can be made:
- Our efforts to study the numerous objects in space and to calculate their distances spring from our inner desire to understand the natural world, regardless of whether the knowledge might help us for our practical, survival needs, and despite the physical limitations that prevent us from traveling there. These efforts distinguish the human species from all others on our planet.
- Our calculations of the distances of various objects in space have allowed us to send probes to investigate these objects. By these efforts, we work toward establishing harmony with the various parts of the created world and stewardship (dominion) of true love over it. In Unification terminology, we work toward fulfilling God's "Third Great Blessing" to humanity.
- The scientific study of objects in space is a manifestation of our intelligence and creativity—attributes that are linked to our spiritual dimension. These attributes are also reflective of God's intelligence and creativity. In addition, the results of these studies provide glimpses of some of the processes by which God invested His heart, intelligence, and energies in creating this world.