Astronomy Terms

Astronomy terms are used to describe the various phenomena in space. In this section you can learn what every astronomy term means and how it helps us to better understand the cosmos.

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Is there a speed of darkness?

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How did the universe begin?

You've heard of the big bang, of course, but do you have any idea as to what was happening during that massive flurry of activity billions of years ago?

What existed before the big bang?

So much of our cosmological history starts with the much-discussed big bang, but what led up to that cataclysmic moment? And did time even exist back then?

What are dark matter and dark energy?

Every day, astronomers unravel a little more of the universe's inner workings, but the jury is still out on 95 percent of its contents.

Quasar

Quasar, or Quasi-stellar Object (QSO), a starlike object displaying an unusually large red shift.

Magellanic Clouds

Magellanic Clouds, three irregularly shaped galaxies that lie some 150,000 to 200,000 light-years from earth.

Aberration of Light

Aberration of Light is a phenomenon in which a star or other celestial body, as viewed from the earth, appears to be slightly displaced from its true position.

Albedo

Albedo, in astronomy, is the reflecting power of a celestial body that is not self-luminous.

Andromeda Galaxy

Andromeda Galaxy, a spiral galaxy that is larger than the Milky Way (the galaxy to which Earth belongs) but similar to it in structure, and the closest to ours.

Eros (asteroid)

Eros, a small asteroid (minor planet) discovered in 1898. It was the first asteroid known to come closer to the earth than the planet Mars.

Astrogeology

Astrogeology is the science that applies the principles of geology to the study of solid bodies of the solar system other than the earth.

Transit

Transit, in astronomy, is the passage of one celestial body across the disc (face) of a larger, more distant body, or across the observer's meridian.

Astrophysics

Astrophysics, the application of the theories and techniques of modern physics to astronomy.

Autumn

Autumn, or Fall, the season of the year that follows summer and comes before winter.

Azimuth

Azimuth, the horizontal direction of an object, measured clockwise in degrees, minutes, and seconds of arc from true north or south along the theoretical horizon.

Bolometer

Bolometer, an instrument used to measure infrared, or heat, radiation. The bolometer is essentially a very sensitive thermometer.

Brown Dwarf

Brown Dwarf, a celestial object more massive than a planet but less massive than a star.

Chronology

Chronology, the science of measuring time. Chronology divides time into regular divisions or periods, and assigns events their proper place and sequence by giving them dates.

Chronometer

Chronometer, a timepiece that is exceptionally accurate. Traditionally, the term refers to the marine chronometer, a rugged mechanical instrument used at sea to keep time for navigational purposes.

Cosmogony

Cosmogony, the study of the origin and development of the universe as a whole and of the individual bodies that compose it.

Cosmology

Cosmology, the study of the universe. It is both a scientific subject and a philosophical one.

Day

Day, in astronomy, the average length of time between successive noons. Noon is defined as the instant when the sun is highest in the sky.

Double Star

Double Star, a pair of closely-spaced stars that to the unaided eye usually appear as a single star.


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