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Parallax Lab Supplement Project


Taking a measurement is essential in the comprehension of the concept of the universe and its parts. Astronomers can apply different techniques or methods to calculate the universe’s luminosity, distance, size, and object composition. One of the specific methods that the astronauts use to get the distance measurement is the parallax, which involves the shifting of stars from the apparent position with the view capturing two points distinct from one another. The Parallax method is very significant in the field of astronomy because astronomers can take large distances measurements accurately and, at the same time, present the insight universe’s structure (Xu & DeAngelis, 2021). The hypothesis drawn from this lab is that the parallax method is essential while in the remote state to determine the distances. Through proper analysis, the method provides a coherent understanding of the universe regarding its structure and size.


The Parallax Measurement Device UTK is very sophisticated; the system accurately measures objects in motion in a three-dimensional space. The components in PMD are; a series of lasers, a computer interface, and an illuminated laser-sensor head. The head of the sensor mounts on the tripod stand, and a connection establishment is via a USB cable (Xu et al., 2021). The laser calibration to a certain distance estimates the objects in motion. Some steps are applicable when setting up PMD the right way. The first step is the adjustment of the head of the sensor, angle, and height. It is followed by the correct alignment of the sensor head and the calibrated distance. The head of the computer is connected to the head of the sensor. Configuration is then taking place skillfully for communication with PMD. Upon the completion of the steps, the PMD is ready for use.

2.1 Requirements

In the case of the measurement of parallax, the following is required:

  • The table for setting Parallax Measurement Device (PMD)
  • The object distance placement is at three different distances from the PMD.
  • Reference-based on the ground object is approximately 100ft but 300 ft far from PMD.
  • The tape measures object distant physically. This strategy can serve as the comparison aspect for observing how effectively one can determine the distance using the parallax.

2.2 Parallax Measurement Direction

  • One eye closed, view down the post on the left. Make the group mate push the object distance to the right or left.
  • Without making the PMD move, one can now close one eye by looking down at the post on the right (Shah et al., 2021). Individuals can keep their heads in motion until the alignment of distant objects and the right post is achievable. Put one of the threads to a point where it can point directly to the background reference.
  • Subtract the angle to the distant object from the background reference angle, which is recorded in column 2α.
  • (Angle 1) – (Angle 2) = 2p
  • Parallax angle α is calculated by dividing 2p by 2.
  • The recording of the value is in the column for p.

2.3 Determining Distance via Parallax

Geometry and trigonometry can calculate the distance D from the parallax point p. The distance d in the equation is calculated using the equation. D = 10in/ tan (p)

The distance is recorded in a table as shown below.


The experimental result on the UTK Parallax Measurement Device (PMD) indicated that the distance between the individual acting as an observer and the target increased exponentially. The adjustment angle required for accurately identifying the object also fairly increased. At the position of 10ft, the angles adjustments were 75˚, 88˚ for trial 1, 76˚, 87˚ for trial 2, and finally 74˚ and 90˚ for the third trial. 20ft the angles adjustments were as follows; 77˚, 87˚ for trial 1, 76˚ and 86˚ for trial 2, and finally 76˚ and 87˚ for the third trial. At 30ft angles, adjustments were as follows; 80˚, 85˚ for trial 1, 77˚ and 80˚ for trial 2, and finally, 80˚ and 84˚ for the third trial. The distance (D) results were computed in Tables 1 and 2.

The figure below shows how to measure distance using the UTK Parallax Measurement Device.

distance using the UTK Parallax Measurement Device

Tables 1 and 2 below show the distance (D) calculation at various angles.

Recording angles to the nearest tenth-degree, distance to the nearest half-inch
Angle 1(˚) Angle 2 (˚) 2p (˚) p (˚) D(in)
Position 1 (10ft approximately)
Trial 1 75˚ 88˚ (88˚-75˚) = 13 13/2= 6.5 87.77
Trial 2 76˚ 87˚ (87˚-76˚) = 11 11/2 = 5.5 103.85
Trial 3 74˚ 90˚ (90˚-74˚) = 16 16/2=8 71.15
Position 2 (approximately 20 ft)
Trial 1 77˚ 87˚ (87˚-77˚) = 10 10/2= 5 163.50
Trial 2 76˚ 86˚ (86˚-76˚) = 10 10/2=5 163.50
Trial 3 76˚ 87˚ (87˚-76˚) = 11 11/2=5.5 103.85
Position 3 (approximately 30 ft)
Trial 1 80˚ 85˚ 5 5/2 = 2.5 229.038
Trial 2 77˚ 80˚ 3 3/2= 1.5 381.885
Trial 3 80˚ 84˚ 4 4/2= 2 286.363


The parallax-determined distances were accurate when compared to the physically measured distances. The parallax method could accurately estimate distances to within a few percent. The precision of the measurements was limited by the accuracy of the instrument used to detect the stars and the resolution of the images. The parallax method was also limited by atmospheric and instrumental effects, which can cause a blurring of the images, resulting in less precise measurements. Overall, the parallax method could accurately estimate distances within a few percent, making it reliable for measuring distances.

When determining the distances, the parallax method was very accurate compared to measuring distances physically. The effects of equipment, which resulted in blurred images by giving less precise measurements, also limited the parallax method. The distances determined through parallax give a fair result compared to those measured physically. The parallax technique is reliable if measurement accuracy is considered, especially in determining remote distances. It is, therefore, imperative to focus on measurement accuracy when calculating the distances with parallax. In astronomy, parallax measures distances covered by stars and other heavenly bodies. This process is achievable by measuring an apparent change in star position viewed from different locations and times. The method is highly reliable since it has been used for many years in measuring space distances.


The experiment conducted on the UTK parallax measurement device entails the adjustment of angles and positions of the devices to measure the parallax of different objects and their distances. The results indicated that the figures generated by parallax bore significant variation depending on the position and angle of the device, including the object distance from the device. The main findings showed that PMD could accurately measure the parallax at various positions and angles. There was an increment in the parallax value as object and device distance increased. Furthermore, the experiment demonstrated how PMD could be applied to measure object parallax at slightly varying distances.


Shah, S. J., Cowie, M. R., Wachter, R., Szecsödy, P., Shi, V., Ibram, G., & Pieske, B. (2021). Baseline Characteristics of Patients in the PARALLAX Trial: Insights into Quality of Life and Exercise Capacity in Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction. European Journal of Heart Failure23(9), 1541-1551.

Xu, Y., Bian, S. B., Reid, M. J., Li, J. J., Menten, K. M., Dame, T. M., … & Zheng, X. W. (2021). Trigonometric Parallaxes of Four Star-Forming Regions in the Distant Inner Galaxy. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series253(1), 1.

Xu, Z. X., & DeAngelis, G. C. (2021). Speed Tuning in Head Coordinates as an Alternative Explanation of Depth Selectivity from Motion Parallax in Area MT. bioRxiv, 2021-04.


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