Astronomical Dictionary
Letter: O


Dictionary of Astronomical Definitions and Terms.
Astronomical | O

 

Definition


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Occultation
This is when one celestial body, passes in front of, and obscures, another.
This refers to the same type of phenomena as an eclipse. [Distinguish from eclipse] From precise timings by different observers (almost exclusively amateur astronomers), a wide variety of information about celestial objects can be determined, including: planetary atmospheres, coordinates of distant radio sources, dimensions of objects with extended disks, radio and X-ray objects, and the heights of lunar mountains lying near the limb of the Moon.
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Open Cluster
A group of young stars, possibly bound together by gravity. Over 750 of them have been recorded. It is thought that the stars in these clusters are relatively young and have recently been formed from interstellar gas clouds. Prominent examples are the Pleiades and Hyades clusters in Taurus.
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Opposition
A planet is said to be "in opposition" when it appears opposite the Sun in the sky. For the outer planets, this is generally the closest they come to the Earth, hence when they are most easily visible.
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Optical Binary
Not a true binary system; two stars which appear in alignment from the perspective of the Earth which are actually an enormous distance apart. They are not physically associated with one another and lie at vastly different distances. Optical binaries are also known as visual binaries.
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Orbit
The path of one body around another due to the influence of gravity. For two-body systems, the possible orbits thus described are the five conic sections: straight line, circle, ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola.
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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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