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Derek Haselden - Astronomical Glossary
Category: Meteorology and astronomy > Astronomy
Date & country: 05/11/2007, UK
Words: 664


Aberration (of starlight)
An effect of the Earth's motion around the Sun which slightly alters the true positions of the the stars. Light moves at a speed of almost 300 000km (186 000 miles) per second and the Earth orbits the Sun at an average speed of 28km (17 miles) per second. As a result the stars appear to be shifted from their true poition. Aberration may alter a star's position by up to 20.5 seconds of arc.

Adrastea
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Aerolite
A meteorite whose main composition is stoney.

Aglaia
One of the `minor planets` of our solar system. Discovered by Luther on 15 Sep 1857. Diameter in km: 158. More data in TABLE 13. THE MINOR PLANETS

Airglow
The faint background glow in the night sky caused by gas in the ionosphere. Because of airglow the night sky is never completely dark as seen from Earth's surface.

Aitne
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Albiorix
Satellite of the planet Saturn. See TABLE 8. SATURN - SATELLITE DATA

alpha Scorpiids
Meteor shower. Most active day is Apr.27. Low activity from several radiants.

Amalthea
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Amphitrite
One of the `minor planets` of our solar system. Discovered by Marth on 1 Mar 1854. Diameter in km: 200. More data in TABLE 13. THE MINOR PLANETS

Ananke
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Andromeda
English name: Andromeda (Princess). Genitive name: Andromedae. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Andromeda (Princess)
The constellation Andromeda. Genitive name: Andromedae. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Andromedae
The constellation Andromeda. English name: Andromeda (Princess). Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Andromedids
Meteor shower. Most active day is Nov. 20. Shower now thought to be dead. (Comet defunct)

Angstrom (unit)
One hundredth-millionth of a centimetre.

Antlia
English name: The Air Pump. Genitive name: Antliae. Visibility: Parts visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Antliae
The constellation Antlia. English name: The Air Pump. Visibility: Parts visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Aphelion
The point at which an orbiting body is furthest from the Sun in its orbit.

Apochromat
A lens consisting of three or more elements which gives a greater reduction of chromatic abberation than that of a two-element (Achromatic) lens.

Apodis
The constellation Apus. English name: The Bird of Paradise. Visibility: Never visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Apogee
The furthest point of the Moon from the Earth in its orbit.

Apparition
The period or time when an object is visible and well placed for observation.

Apus
English name: The Bird of Paradise. Genitive name: Apodis. Visibility: Never visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Aquarii
The constellation Aquarius. English name: The Water Bearer. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Aquarius
English name: The Water Bearer. Genitive name: Aquarii. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Aquila
English name: The Eagle. Genitive name: Aquilae. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Aquilae
The constellation Aquila. English name: The Eagle. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Ara
English name: The Altar. Genitive name: Arae. Visibility: Never visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Arae
The constellation Ara. English name: The Altar. Visibility: Never visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Arend
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 7.99years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Arend-Rigaux
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 6.82years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Areography
The proper name for the geography of Mars.

Ariadne
One of the `minor planets` of our solar system. Discovered by Pogson on 15 Apr 1857. Diameter in km: 84. More data in TABLE 13. THE MINOR PLANETS

Ariel
Satellite of the planet Uranus. See TABLE 9. URANUS - SATELLITE DATA

Aries
English name: The Ram. Genitive name: Arietis. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Arietis
The constellation Aries. English name: The Ram. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Ashbrook-Jackson
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 7.47years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Aspides
The points in the Moon's orbit where it is either closest to Earth (perigee) or farthest from Earth (apogee).

Asteroids
One of several names for the minor planet swarms of the Solar System. Asteroids are found in many regions of the solar system but most are to be found orbiting the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This region is often refered to as the Asteroid Belt.

Astraea
One of the `minor planets` of our solar system. Discovered by Hencke on 8 Dec 1845. Diameter in km: 120. More data in TABLE 13. THE MINOR PLANETS

Astrograph
A telescope designed specifically for astrophotography.

Astrolabe
An ancient instrument used for measuring the altitudes of celestial objects.

Astrometry
The branch of astronomy that deals with precisely measuring the positions of objects on the celestial sphere.

Astrophysics
The study of the physical nature of celestial objects.

Atalante
One of the `minor planets` of our solar system. Discovered by Goldschmidt on 5 Oct 1855. Diameter in km: 120. More data in TABLE 13. THE MINOR PLANETS

Atlas
Satellite of the planet Saturn. See TABLE 8. SATURN - SATELLITE DATA

Auriga
English name: The Charioteer. Genitive name: Aurigae. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Aurigae
The constellation Auriga. English name: The Charioteer. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Autonoe
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Bailly's Beads
Bright points of light seen along the edge of the Moon just before and just after a total eclipse of the Sun. They are caused by sunlight shining though valleys (or between peaks) at the Moon's limb.

Barycentre
The centre of gravity of the Earth-Moon system. The Earth is 81 times the mass of the Moon and the barycentre of the Earth-Moon system actually lies inside the Earth.

Belinda
Satellite of the planet Uranus. See TABLE 9. URANUS - SATELLITE DATA

Bellona
One of the `minor planets` of our solar system. Discovered by Luther on 1 Mar 1854. Diameter in km: 124. More data in TABLE 13. THE MINOR PLANETS

Berenice's Hair
The constellation Coma Berenices. Genitive name: Comae Berenices. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Bianca
Satellite of the planet Uranus. See TABLE 9. URANUS - SATELLITE DATA

Big Bang
The hypothetical event that is thought to have created the universe. Estimates vary but many accounts of this event put it as occurring about 15 billion years ago.

Billion
1 000 000 000 - one thousand million.

Binary Star
A system of two stars that are genuinely associated with each other and are moving around their common centre of gravity.

BL Lacertæ objects
Objects which are strong emitters of infra-redradiation. They are very luminous and remote and are thought to have similar properties to quasars.

Bode's law
A mathematical relationship of uncertain significance that links the distances of the planets from the Sun. Strictly speaking it should be called Titius' Law since it was discovered by J. D. Titius several years before J. E. Bode popularised it in 1772. Some refer to it as the Titius-Bode Law.

Boethin
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 11.2years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Bolide
A brilliant exploding meteor.

Bolometer
An instrument used to measure heat radiation.

Bootes
English name: The Herdsman. Genitive name: Bootis. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Bootis
The constellation Bootes. English name: The Herdsman. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Borrely
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 6.88years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Brooks 2
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 6.89years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Brorsen-Metcalf
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 72.0years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Bus
A comet in our solar system with an orbital period of 6.52years. More data in TABLE 14. NOTABLE PERIODIC COMETS

Caeli
The constellation Caelum. English name: The Graving Tool. Visibility: Parts visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Caelum
English name: The Graving Tool. Genitive name: Caeli. Visibility: Parts visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Caliban
Satellite of the planet Uranus. See TABLE 9. URANUS - SATELLITE DATA

Calliope
One of the `minor planets` of our solar system. Discovered by Hind on 16 Nov 1852. Diameter in km: 174. More data in TABLE 13. THE MINOR PLANETS

Callirrhoe
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Callisto
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Calypso
Satellite of the planet Saturn. See TABLE 8. SATURN - SATELLITE DATA

Camelopardalis
English name: The Giraffe. Genitive name: Camelopardalis. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Camelopardalis
The constellation Camelopardalis. English name: The Giraffe. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Cancer
English name: The Crab. Genitive name: Cancri. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Cancri
The constellation Cancer. English name: The Crab. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Canes Venatici
English name: The Hunting Dogs. Genitive name: Canum Venaticorum. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Canis Major
English name: The Greater Dog. Genitive name: Canis Majoris. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Canis Majoris
The constellation Canis Major. English name: The Greater Dog. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Canis Minor
English name: The Lesser Dog. Genitive name: Canis Minoris. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Canis Minoris
The constellation Canis Minor. English name: The Lesser Dog. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Canum Venaticorum
The constellation Canes Venatici. English name: The Hunting Dogs. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Capricorni
The constellation Capricornus. English name: The Sea-Goat. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Capricornus
English name: The Sea-Goat. Genitive name: Capricorni. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Captured rotation
Rotation of an object that spins at the same rate as that object takes to orbit another object. Sometimes referred to as synchronous rotation. The Moon is a good example of an object that has captured rotation.

Carbon stars
Red stars of spectral type 'R' and 'N' which have carbon-rich atmospheres.

Carina
English name: The Keel. Genitive name: Carinae. Visibility: Never visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Carinae
The constellation Carina. English name: The Keel. Visibility: Never visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Carme
Satellite of the planet Jupiter. See TABLE 7. JUPITER - SATELLITE DATA

Cassegrain reflector
A type of reflecting telescope where the secondary mirror is convex and the reflected light is then passed through a hole in the main or primary mirror. The advantage of this design is that it may be made more compact than a Newtonian reflector of equal focal ratio.

Cassiopeia
English name: Cassiopeia (Queen). Genitive name: Cassiopeiae. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Cassiopeia (Queen)
The constellation Cassiopeia. Genitive name: Cassiopeiae. Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Cassiopeiae
The constellation Cassiopeia. English name: Cassiopeia (Queen). Visibility: Visible from the UK See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Centauri
The constellation Centaurus. English name: The Centaur. Visibility: Parts visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Centaurus
English name: The Centaur. Genitive name: Centauri. Visibility: Parts visible from the UK. See TABLE 20: THE CONSTELLATIONS.