Where is Voyager 1 Headed and When Will It Get There?

-- | October 31, 2013

Question:  The Voyager 1 spacecraft has left our solar system and is now in interstellar space but where exactly is it heading now and at its present speed how long will it take to get there.  — David

Answer:  I found the answer to this question on the Voyager FAQ page.  From the information on this page you can learn that Voyager 1 is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.5 Astronomical Units (AU: the average distance between the Earth and our Sun) per year along a direction that is 35 degrees out of the ecliptic plane to the north, in the general direction of the Sun’s motion motion relative to nearby stars. Voyager 1 in headed in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus. In the year 40,272 AD, Voyager 1 will come within 1.7 light years of an obscure star in the constellation Ursa Minor called AC+79 3888.

Just for your information, Voyager 2 is also escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.1 AU per year, 48 degrees out of the ecliptic plane to the south toward the constellations of Sagitarrius and Pavo. In about 40,000 years, Voyager 2 will come within about 1.7 light years of a star called Ross 248 the constellation of Andromeda.

Finally, if you want to see a very cool graphic which shows the trajectory of the Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, and New Horizons spacecraft out of our solar system, check out the Spacecraft Escaping the Solar System page produced by the folks at Heavens Above.

Jeff Mangum