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What is a light year?

Learn what a light year is and how it pertains to distance.

A light year is not a measure of time. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
A light year is not a measure of time.

A light year is a measure of distance, not time. It is the distance that light, which travels in a vacuum at the rate of 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second, can travel in a year (365 1/4 days). This is equal to 5,870 billion miles or 9,460 billion kilometers.

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