Astronomical Dictionary
Letter: M


Dictionary of Astronomical Definitions and Terms.
Astronomical | M

 

Definition


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Magnetosphere
The region of space in which a planet's magnetic field dominates that of the solar wind.
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Magnitude
The degree of brightness of a celestial body designated on a numerical scale, on which the brightest star has magnitude -1.4 and the faintest star visible to the unaided eye, has magnitude 6. A decrease of one unit represents an increase in apparent brightness by a factor of 2.512. Apparent magnitude of a star is the brightness as we see it from Earth, whilst absolute magnitude is a measure of its intrinsic luminosity. Lower numbers represent brighter objects.
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Meteor
Also known as a "shooting star" or "falling star", is a bright streak of light in the sky caused by a meteorite as it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere.
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Meteorite
A stony or metallic object from interplanetary space that impacts a planetary surface.
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Minor Planets
This term is preferred by astronomers, and is synonomous with the term asteroid.
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Moon
A naturally occurring satellite, or relatively large body, orbiting a planet.
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Magma
Molten rock material (liquids and gases).
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Mantle
The main bulk of a planet between the crust and the core; on Earth, the mantle ranges from about 40 to 2,900 kilometers (25 to 1800 miles) below the surface.
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Mare
A dark, low-lying lunar plain, filled to some depth with volcanic rocks.
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Mars
Planet fourth in order from the sun. In Roman mythology, god of war and discord (Greek name, Ares).
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Massif
A massive topographical feature, commonly formed of rocks more rigid than those of its surroundings.
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Mead
Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American anthropologist, author and lecturer on contemporary social issues.
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Mercury
The planet closest to the sun. In Roman mythology, the fleet-footed messenger god and escort of dead souls to the underworld (Greek name, Hermes).
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Mimas
In Greek mythology, a giant.
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Morphology
The study of structure or form.
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Mylitta
In ancient Phoenicia, a moon goddess who presided over fertility and childbirth.
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