This article was coauthored by wikiHow Staff. Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards.
There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 486,133 times.
Learn more...
The radius of a sphere (abbreviated as the variable r or R) is the distance from the exact center of the sphere to a point on the outside edge of that sphere. As with circles, the radius of a sphere is often an essential piece of starting information for calculating the shape's diameter, circumference, surface area, and/or volume. However, you can also work backward from the diameter, circumference, etc. to find the sphere's radius. Use the formula that works with the information you have.
Steps
Method 1
Method 1 of 3:Using Radius Calculation Formulas
Download Article

1Find the radius if you know the diameter. The radius is half the diameter, so use the formula r = D/2. This is identical to the method used for calculating the radius of a circle from its diameter.^{[1] X Research source }
 If you have a sphere with a diameter of 16 cm, find the radius by dividing 16/2 to get 8 cm. If the diameter is 42, then the radius is 21.

2Find the radius if you know the circumference. Use the formula C/2π. Since the circumference is equal to πD, which is equal to 2πr, dividing the circumference by 2π will give the radius.^{[2] X Research source }
 If you have a sphere with a circumference of 20 m, find the radius by dividing 20/2π = 3.183 m.
 Use the same formula to convert between the radius and circumference of a circle.
Advertisement 
3Calculate the radius if you know the volume of a sphere. Use the formula ((V/π)(3/4))^{1/3}.^{[3] X Research source } The volume of a sphere is derived from the equation V = (4/3)πr^{3}. Solving for the r variable in this equation gets ((V/π)(3/4))^{1/3} = r, meaning that the radius of a sphere is equal to the volume divided by π, times 3/4, all taken to the 1/3 power (or the cube root.)^{[4] X Research source }
 If you have a sphere with a volume of 100 inches^{3}, solve for the radius as follows:
 ((V/π)(3/4))^{1/3} = r
 ((100/π)(3/4))^{1/3} = r
 ((31.83)(3/4))^{1/3} = r
 (23.87)^{1/3} = r
 2.88 in = r
 If you have a sphere with a volume of 100 inches^{3}, solve for the radius as follows:

4Find the radius from the surface area. Use the formula r = √(A/(4π)). The surface area of a sphere is derived from the equation A = 4πr^{2}. Solving for the r variable yields √(A/(4π)) = r, meaning that the radius of a sphere is equal to the square root of the surface area divided by 4π. You can also take (A/(4π)) to the 1/2 power for the same result.^{[5] X Research source }
 If you have a sphere with a surface area of 1,200 cm^{2}, solve for the radius as follows:
 √(A/(4π)) = r
 √(1200/(4π)) = r
 √(300/(π)) = r
 √(95.49) = r
 9.77 cm = r
Advertisement  If you have a sphere with a surface area of 1,200 cm^{2}, solve for the radius as follows:
Method 2
Method 2 of 3:Defining Key Concepts
Download Article

1Identify the basic measurements of a sphere. The radius (r) is the distance from the exact center of the sphere to any point on the surface of the sphere. Generally speaking, you can find the radius of a sphere if you know the diameter, the circumference, the volume, or the surface area.
 Diameter (D): the distance across the sphere – double the radius. Diameter is the length of a line through the center of the sphere: from one point on the outside of the sphere to a corresponding point directly across from it. In other words, the greatest possible distance between two points on the sphere.
 Circumference (C): the onedimensional distance around the sphere at its widest point. In other words, the perimeter of a spherical cross section whose plane passes through the center of the sphere.
 Volume (V): the threedimensional space contained inside the sphere. It is the "space that the sphere takes up."^{[6] X Research source }
 Surface Area (A): the twodimensional area on the outside surface of the sphere. The amount of flat space that covers the outside of the sphere.
 Pi (π): a constant that expresses the ratio of the circle's circumference to the circle's diameter. The first ten digits of Pi are always 3.141592653, although it is usually rounded to 3.14.

2Use various measurements to find the radius. You can use the diameter, circumference, volume, and surface area to calculate the radius of a sphere. You can also calculate each of these numbers if you know the length of the radius itself. Thus, in order to find the radius, try reversing the formulas for these components' calculations. Learn the formulas that use the radius to find diameter, circumference, volume, and surface area.
 D = 2r. As with circles, the diameter of a sphere is twice the radius.
 C = πD or 2πr. As with circles, the circumference of a sphere is equal to π times the diameter. Since the diameter is twice the radius, we can also say that the circumference is twice the radius times π.
 V = (4/3)πr^{3}. The volume of a sphere is the radius cubed (times itself twice), times π, times 4/3.^{[7] X Research source }
 A = 4πr^{2}. The surface area of a sphere is the radius squared (times itself), times π, times 4. Since the area of a circle is πr^{2}, it can also be said that the surface area of a sphere is four times the area of the circle formed by its circumference.
Advertisement
Method 3
Method 3 of 3:Finding the Radius as the Distance Between Two Points
Download Article

1Find the (x,y,z) coordinates of the central point of the sphere. One way to think of the radius of a sphere is as the distance between the point at the center of the sphere and any point on the surface of the sphere. Because this is true, if you know the coordinates of the point at the center of the sphere and of any point on the surface, you can find the radius of the sphere simply by calculating the distance between the two points with a variant of the basic distance formula. To begin, find the coordinates of the sphere's center point. Note that because spheres are threedimensional, this will be an (x,y,z) point rather than an (x,y) point.
 This process is easier to understand by following along with an example. For our purposes, let's say that we have a sphere centered around the (x,y,z) point (4, 1, 12). In the next few steps, we'll use this point to help find the radius.

2Find the coordinates of a point on the surface of the sphere. Next, you'll need to find the (x,y,z) coordinates of a point on the surface of the sphere. This can be any point on the surface of the sphere. Because the points on the surface of a sphere are equidistant from the center point by definition, any point will work for determining the radius.
 For the purposes of our example problem, let's say that we know that the point (3, 3, 0) lies on the surface of the sphere. By calculating the distance between this point and the center point, we can find the radius.

3Find the radius with the formula d = √((x_{2}  x_{1})^{2} + (y_{2}  y_{1})^{2} + (z_{2}  z_{1})^{2}). Now that you know the center of the sphere and a point on the surface, calculating the distance between the two will find the radius. Use the threedimensional distance formula d = √((x_{2}  x_{1})^{2} + (y_{2}  y_{1})^{2} + (z_{2}  z_{1})^{2}), where d equals distance, (x_{1},y_{1},z_{1}) equals the coordinates of the center point, and (x_{2},y_{2},z_{2}) equals the coordinates of the point on the surface to find the distance between the two points.
 In our example, we would plug in (4, 1, 12) for (x_{1},y_{1},z_{1}) and (3, 3, 0) for (x_{2},y_{2},z_{2}), solving as follows:
 d = √((x_{2}  x_{1})^{2} + (y_{2}  y_{1})^{2} + (z_{2}  z_{1})^{2})
 d = √((3  4)^{2} + (3  1)^{2} + (0  12)^{2})
 d = √((1)^{2} + (4)^{2} + (12)^{2})
 d = √(1 + 16 + 144)
 d = √(161)
 d = 12.69. This is the radius of our sphere.
 In our example, we would plug in (4, 1, 12) for (x_{1},y_{1},z_{1}) and (3, 3, 0) for (x_{2},y_{2},z_{2}), solving as follows:

4Know that, in general cases, r = √((x_{2}  x_{1})^{2} + (y_{2}  y_{1})^{2} + (z_{2}  z_{1})^{2}). In a sphere, every point on the surface of the sphere is the same distance from the center point. If we take the threedimensional distance formula above and replace the "d" variable with the "r" variable for radius, we get a form of the equation that can can find the radius given any center point (x_{1},y_{1},z_{1}) and any corresponding surface point (x_{2},y_{2},z_{2}).
 By squaring both sides of this equation, we get r^{2} = (x_{2}  x_{1})^{2} + (y_{2}  y_{1})^{2} + (z_{2}  z_{1})^{2}. Note that this is essentially equal to the basic sphere equation r^{2} = x^{2} + y^{2} + z^{2} which assumes a center point of (0,0,0).
Advertisement
Community Q&A

QuestionHow do I find the radius of a sphere if I know its volume is three times its surface area?DonaganTop AnswererWrite an equation whereby the volume [(4πr³) / 3] is set equal to three times the surface area (4πr²). Thus, [(4πr³) / 3] = 12πr². Divide both sides by 4π, so that r³/3 = r². Multiply by 3: r³ = 3r². Divide by r²: r = 3. In other words, a sphere's volume can be three times its surface area only if its radius is 3 units.

QuestionHow do I calculate the radius of a sphere in my hand by using a ruler?DonaganTop AnswererYou can get a very close approximation by carefully measuring the circumference and dividing by twicepi (6.28).

QuestionTwo solid spheres A & B are made of the same material. The radius of B is 3 times the radius of A, and the surface area of A is 20 cubic cm. How do I calculate the surface area of B?DonaganTop AnswererThe surface area (S) of a sphere equals 4πr², where r is the radius. Using that equation to solve for r: r = √(S / 4π). Now substitute 20 for S, and solve for the radius of sphere A: r = √(20 / 4π) = √(20 / 12.56) = √ 1.59 = 1.26 cm. That's the radius of sphere A. The radius of sphere B is three times the radius of sphere A: (3)(1.26) = 3.79 cm. So for sphere B, the surface area is 4πr² = (4)(3.14)(3.79)² = 180.4 square centimeters. (That answer makes sense, because when you multiply the radius of a sphere by 3, you multiply its surface area by 3² or 9.) (We didn't exactly triple the original surface area, because we rounded off some numbers along the way.)

QuestionHow do I calculate surface area of a hemisphere with a radius 12 cm?DonaganTop AnswererUse the formula A = 2πr², which would be half the surface area of the full sphere.

QuestionHow can I calculate radius of a hemisphere?DonaganTop AnswererYou would have to know other information. If, for example, you know the surface area (A) of the hemisphere, divide it by 2π, then find the square root of that number. Thus, r = √(A / 2π).

QuestionHow can I find a spear's diameter if I know the center point?Community AnswerMark any other point on the surface of the sphere.Find the distance between them and that's it, you get the radius.

QuestionBecause of the commutative property law, if I divided the circumference by pi, would I get the diameter?DonaganTop AnswererYes, a circle's diameter is equal to its circumference divided by pi. (The commutative law is irrelevant.)

QuestionHow would I find the weight of an aluminum sphere with dimensions r = 2.0 m?DonaganTop AnswererAssuming a solid aluminum sphere, you would first need to know the density of aluminum. Then find the volume (4/3)(πr³). Then multiply the volume by the density.

QuestionHow can I find the surface area of a sphere if I know the cross section is 31" squared running through middle for area?DonaganTop AnswererThe crosssectional area (31 sq in) equals πr². So r² = 31 / π = 9.87. Therefore, r = 3.14 inches. The surface area of a sphere equals 4πr², so the surface area of this sphere is (4)(π)(3.14)² = 123.84 sq in.

QuestionHow do I measure length, breadth, and height of a sphere?DonaganTop AnswererA sphere does not have length, breadth or height. It has a diameter, which (if not given to you) may be measured with a tool called a caliper.
Video
Tips
 This article was published on demand. However, if you are trying to get to grips with solid geometry for the first time, it's arguably better to start off the other end: calculating the properties of the sphere from the radius.Thanks!
 The order in which the operations are performed matter. If you are uncertain how priorities work, and your calculating device supports parentheses, then make sure to use them.Thanks!
 π or pi is a Greek letter which represent the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference. It's an irrational number and cannot be written as a ratio of 2 integers. Many approximations exist, 333/106 gives pi to four decimal places. Today most people memorize the approximation 3.14 which is usually sufficiently accurate for everyday purposes.Thanks!
 If you have physical access to the sphere in question, one way to find its measurements is with water displacement. First, assuming the size makes this possible you may submerge it in a full container of water and collect the overflow. Then measure the volume of the collected overflow. Convert from mL into cubic centimeters or measurement of choice for the sphere, and you can use that value to solve for r with the equation v=(4/3)* pi*r^3. This is a bit more complicated than measuring the circumference with a tape measure or ruler, but it can be more accurate since you don't have to worry about the measuring instrument being off center.Thanks!
References
 ↑ http://www.rkm.com.au/CALCULATORS/CALCULATORcirclesphere.html
 ↑ http://www.calculatorsoup.com/calculators/geometrysolids/sphere.php
 ↑ http://www.varsitytutors.com/sat_mathhelp/howtofindtheradiusofasphere
 ↑ http://mathcentral.uregina.ca/QQ/database/QQ.09.07/h/cey2.html
 ↑ http://formulas.tutorvista.com/math/sphereformula.html
 ↑ http://www.webformulas.com/Math_Formulas/Geometry_Volume_of_Sphere.aspx
 ↑ http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/54892.html
About This Article
If you know the diameter, you can find the radius of a sphere by dividing the diameter in half. If you know the circumference, you can find the radius by dividing the circumference by 2 times pi. To learn how to calculate the radius of a sphere using two points on the sphere, keep reading!