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I know this would likely vary in different incarnations of Superman, but is it ever specified how far Krypton is from Earth? And is it ever placed on a star chart so we have an idea about where it is?

I started thinking about this when someone made a comment about Superman II and I remembered that a test of a nuclear weapon from Earth created shock waves that ruptured the Phantom Zone and let Zod, Non, and Ursa escape. Shock waves would be sub-light and we don't know how fast the opening to the Phantom Zone travelled as it wandered through space. We also don't know how fast the ship Kal El arrived on Earth was capable of travelling.

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While not worthy as an official answer, Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krypton_%28comics%29) touches on several versions of Krypton (with citations). These include Krypton, in Byrne's "World of Krypton" series as 50 light years away and Krypton from the "Superman: Birthright" series being cited in the Andromeda Galaxy as 2.5M light years away. Vastly different. Heh. –  Josh Mar 11 '12 at 20:14
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up vote 13 down vote accepted

DC Comics has finally decided where Krypton is located. Teaming up with Neil deGrasse Tyson, a famed astrophysicist, they have agreed on a star matching the description of Rao. This news is related courtesy of CNET on November 6, 2012.

Superman meets Neil deGrasse Tyson to learn the location of Krypton.

Superman meets Neil deGrasse Tyson to learn the location of Krypton.

Tyson teamed with DC Comics to track down a Krypton-like system that matches hints from the comics. He found a fitting red dwarf in the constellation Corvus (the crow) in the southern sky, a mere 27.1 light years from Earth.Tyson even gets a cameo in Action Comics #14, "Star Light, Star Bright," when Superman makes a visit to the astrophysicist's planetarium.

You'll need a telescope to find red dwarf LHS 2520, though. If you're not on a first-name basis with Neil deGrasse Tyson like Superman is, then you can just use these coordinates and find it on your own:

J2000 Right Ascension: 12 hours 10 minutes 5.77 seconds Declination: -15 degrees 4 minutes 17.9 seconds Proper Motion: 0.76 arcseconds per year, along 172.94 degrees from due north

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I'm going to get this issue just because Neil dGrasse Tyson is in it. Krypton's location, second reason. –  sunpech Nov 7 '12 at 7:05
    
Most of the canon DC answers stink. There was a comic a ways back, with Supes chained to a meteor and subjected to the blast of light of his home planet exploding, or some such. So that means the "rocket" he flew from home in moved well faster than the speed of light for one, and also that Krypton was somewhere between 30 and 40 LY away, depending on how old the depiction of Superman was. It's all bass-ackwards and poorly-written. –  Thom Brannan Jun 29 '13 at 10:42
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According to the DC wiki, post Crisis, Krypton had orbited a star named Rao, 50 light years away.

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Krypton_%28Post-Crisis%29

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I'm fairly sure that Jor El chose Earth because it was inhabited, they saw that there were humans there, so the distance (in light years) between Earth and Krypton can't be more than half the number of years that humans have been around for - time for the light that shows we're here to reach Krypton and then time for Kal El's shuttle to reach us. It would almost certainly be a lot less than half, as Kal El's ship would be sub-lightspeed.

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The speed of the ship was irreverent because they used the "ghost drive" or a wormhole generator to cut the distance. –  Monty129 Aug 5 '13 at 9:47
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