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Astronomy Vocabulary

TermDefinition
Astronomy The science that deals with the material universe beyond the earth's atmosphere.
Geocentric Having or representing the earth as a center:
Heliocentric Measured or considered as being seen from the center of the sun.
Ellipse It is a conic section formed by the intersection of a right circular cone by a plane that cuts the axis and the surface of the cone.
Astronomical Unit A unit of length, equal to the mean distance of the earth from the sun: approximately 93 million miles (150 million km).
Rotation The act of rotating; a turning around as on an axis.
Revolution The orbiting of one heavenly body around another.
Perihelion The point in the orbit of a planet or comet at which it is nearest to the sun.
Aphelion Astronomy. the point in the orbit of a planet or a comet at which it is farthest from the sun.
Phases of the moon The moon has eight main phases: new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent.
Solar eclipse The obscuration of the light of the moon by the intervention of the earth between it and the sun (lunar eclipse) or the obscuration of the light of the sun by the intervention of the moon between it and a point on the earth (solar eclipse)
Lunar eclipse See under eclipse.
Terrestrial Planet Inner planet
Jovian Planet Any of the four large outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Asteroid Also called minor planet. Astronomy. any of the thousands of small bodies of from 480 miles (775 km) to less than one mile (1.6 km) in diameter that revolve about the sun in orbits lying mostly between those of Mars and Jupiter.
Comet A celestial body moving about the sun, usually in a highly eccentric orbit, consisting of a central mass surrounded by an envelope of dust and gas that may form a tail that streams away from the sun.
Meteoroid Any of the small bodies, often remnants of comets, traveling through space: when such a body enters the earth's atmosphere it is heated to luminosity and becomes a meteor.
Meteor A transient fiery streak in the sky produced by a meteoroid passing through the earth's atmosphere; a shooting star or bolide.
Meteorite A mass of stone or metal that has reached the earth from outer space; a fallen meteoroid.
Electromagnetic Spectrum The entire spectrum, considered as a continuum, of all kinds of electric, magnetic, and visible radiation, from gamma rays having a wavelength of 0.001 angstrom to long waves having a wavelength of more than 1 million km.
Photon A quantum of electromagnetic radiation, usually considered as an elementary particle that is its own antiparticle and that has zero rest mass and charge and a spin of one. Symbol: γ.
Doppler Effect The shift in frequency (Doppler shift) of acoustic or electromagnetic radiation emitted by a source moving relative to an observer as perceived by the observer.
Refracting Telescope See under telescope
Reflecting Telescope See under telescope
Radio Telescope A system consisting of an antenna, either parabolic or dipolar, used to gather radio waves emitted by celestial sources and bring them to a receiver placed in the focus.
Hubble Telescope A telescope launched into orbit around the earth in 1990 to provide information about the universe in the visible, infrared, and ultraviolet ranges Also called Hubble space telescope
Space Shuttle Two reusable solid rocket boosters that drop off after initial ascent, and an expendable external tank containing liquid propellants.
Created by: 3083586