Chapter 2 Key Terms

to change velocity; to speed up, slow down, or change direction.
apparent magnitude
a measure of how bright a star looks in the sky; the larger the number, the dimmer the star appears to us
the pseudoscience that deals with the supposed influences on human destiny of the configurations and locations in the sky of the Sun, Moon, and planets
celestial equator
a great circle on the celestial sphere 90° from the celestial poles; where the celestial sphere intersects the plane of Earth’s equator
celestial poles
points about which the celestial sphere appears to rotate; intersections of the celestial sphere with Earth’s polar axis
celestial sphere
the apparent sphere of the sky; a sphere of large radius centered on the observer; directions of objects in the sky can be denoted by their position on the celestial sphere
circumpolar zone
those portions of the celestial sphere near the celestial poles that are either always above or always below the horizon
the study of the organization and evolution of the universe
the apparent annual path of the Sun on the celestial sphere
the circular orbit of a body in the Ptolemaic system, the center of which revolves about another circle (the deferent)
centered on Earth
centered on the Sun
horizon (astronomical)
a great circle on the celestial sphere 90° from the zenith; more popularly, the circle around us where the dome of the sky meets Earth
a chart used by astrologers that shows the positions along the zodiac and in the sky of the Sun, Moon, and planets at some given instant and as seen from a particular place on Earth—usually corresponding to the time and place of a person’s birth
the apparent displacement of a nearby star that results from the motion of Earth around the Sun
today, any of the larger objects revolving about the Sun or any similar objects that orbit other stars; in ancient times, any object that moved regularly among the fixed stars
precession (of Earth)
the slow, conical motion of Earth’s axis of rotation caused principally by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun on Earth’s equatorial bulge
retrograde motion
the apparent westward motion of a planet on the celestial sphere or with respect to the stars
the period of revolution of Earth around the Sun
the point on the celestial sphere opposite the direction of gravity; point directly above the observer
a belt around the sky about 18° wide centered on the ecliptic
This book was adapted from the following: Fraknoi, A., Morrison, D., & Wolff, S. C. (2016). Key Terms. In Astronomy. OpenStax. under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0
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PPSC AST 1120: Stellar Astronomy by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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