astronomical unit (AU), mean distance between the earth and sun; one AU is c.92,960,000 mi (149,604,970 km). The astronomical unit is the principal unit of measurement within the solar system, e.g., Mercury is just over 1/3 AU and Pluto is about 39 AU from the sun.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.