Astronomical Dictionary


Dictionary of Astronomical Definitions and Terms.
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Definition


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Olympus
In Greek mythology, the mountain that is home to the gods.
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Onatah
In the mythology of the Native American Seneca and Iroquois people, a corn or wheat goddess; the daughter of Nokomis.
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Ophir
In the Bible, a land to which King Solomon sent a naval expedition. Considered to be the eastern extremity of the know world. Thought to be modern Ethiopia, or possibly India.
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Orientale
Latin for "Eastern".
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Ovda
In Finnish mythology, a wild, ill-humored spirit who wanders through the forests looking for trespassers to tickle to death.
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Pahoehoe
A basaltic lava with a smooth, undulating surface.
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Parallax
The angular difference in apparent direction of an object seen from two different viewpoints. This occurs as the observer moves from location to location.
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Parsec
The distance at which a star (or other object) would have a parallax of 1" (one second of arc). It is the distance at which a star would have a parallax of one arc second with a baseline of 1AU (the mean Sun-Earth distance). A Parsec isequal to 3.2616 light years, 206,265 astronomical units (AU) or 30.857 * 10E12 km.
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Penumbra
The partial shadow or darkness of an eclipse. Means, literally, "dim light". It most often refers to the outer shadow cast during eclipses, and defines the region of shadow which gives rise to a partial eclipse. It is also the lighter area surrounding the central region of a sunspot.
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Periapsis
A genericterm. The point in an orbit closest to a body other than the Sun or the Earth. For bodies which orbit about the Sun, this point is called perihelion; about the Moon, perilune; about the Earth: perigee; about Mars, perimartian; about Jupiter: perijove; about a star: periastron.

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Perigee
From the Greek "near the Earth." The point in its orbit where the Moon, or planet is closest to the Earth.
Opposite of apogee.
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Perihelion
From the Greek "near the Sun." The point in its orbit when an object is closest to the Sun. Opposite of Aphelion.
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Perturb
To cause a celestial body, to deviate from its predicted orbit, usually under the gravitational influence of another celestial object. Example: The effect of Jupiter on the orbit of a comet.
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Photosphere
The visible surface of the Sun;
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Plage
Bright regions in the Sun's chromosphere.
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Planisphere
An aid to locatiing stars and constellations in the night sky. It consists of two discs. One with the entire night sky, and the other, which covers the first, having a window through which a portion of the sky can be seen. The second disc is set according to the date and time.
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Precession
Also called Precession of the Equinoxes. Circular motion about the axis of rotation of a body; fixed with respect to the stars. The Earth is a giant gyroscope whose axis passes through the North and South Poles and this axis precesses with a period of 27,700 years.
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Prominence
A cloud, or plume, of hot, luminous gas in the Sun's corona. It appears bright when seen against the cool blackness of space. When they are in silhouette against the disc they are known as filaments. They are mainly composed of hydrogen, helium and calcium
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Phobos
In Greek mythology, a son of Ares (Mars) who, with brother Deimos, was a constant companion to his father.
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Plateau
Any comparatively flat area of great extent or elevation.
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Plume
A buoyant mass of hot, partially molten mantle material that rises to the base of the lithosphere.
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Pluto
Planet ninth in order, and farthest, from the sun. In Greek mythology, god of the dead and the underworld.
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Prometheus
A Greek mythological hero who gave humankind fire.
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Quadrature
When a superior planet; Jupiter, Saturn etc.; is at right angles to the Sun, as seen from Earth, i.e. the Sun and the Moon are square, or 90? apart.
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Quasars
A quasi-stellar object. Quasars are enormously distant and immensely powerful objects that exhibit variability over short periods of time. A quasar is very similar to a QSO (quasi-stellar object) but gives out radio waves also. They also exhibit very large red-shifts. At the present time, there is much about quasars that is not understood.
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Astronomical [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

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