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Unit 6 Vocabulary: Astronomy

Universe: space and all the matter and energy in it.

Geocentric: Earth centered; all things revolve around the Earth

Heliocentric: Sun centered; Earth and other planets move around the sun.

Big Bang: The moment in time when the universe started to expand out of an
extremely hot, dense state, according to scientific theory.

Galaxy: a group of millions or billions of stars held together by their own gravity.

Nebula: A cloud of gas and dust in space. Stars form in nebulae.

Milky Way: the galaxy that contains our solar system; part of the Local Group

Solar System: the sun, the planets, and various smaller bodies

Astronomical Unit (AU): Earths average distance from the Sun, which is
approximately 150 million kilometers (93 million miles)

Light-year: the distance light travels in one year, which is about 9.5 trillion
kilometers (6 trillion miles)

Ellipse: an oval or flattened circle.

Planet: a spherical body that directly orbits the Sun. Similar bodies that orbit other
stars have been called planets.

Relative distance: distance relative to a specified reference point.

Terrestrial planet: Earth or a planet similar to Earth that has a rocky surface. The
four planets in the inner solar system-Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

Gas giant: a large planet that consists mostly of gases in a dense form. The four
large planets in the outer solar system-Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Ring: a wide, flat zone of small particles that orbit around a planets equator.

Rotation: Movement around an axis.

Tilt: to lean, incline, slope, or slant

Solstice: In an orbit, a position and time during which one hemisphere gets its
maximum area of sunlight, while the other hemisphere gets its minimum amount;
the time of year when days are either longest or shortest, and the angle of sunlight
reaches its maximum or minimum.

Equinox: In an orbit, a position and time in which sunlight shines equally on the
Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere; a time of year when daylight
and darkness are nearly equal for most of Earth.

Revolution: One body moves around another.


Seasons: One part of a pattern of temperature changes and other weather trends
over the course of a year. Astronomical seasons are defined and caused by the
position of Earths axis relative to the direction of sunlight.

Comets: a body that produces a coma of gas and dust; a small, icy body that orbits
the Sun.

Asteroids: A small, solid, rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most asteroids orbit in a
region between Mars and Jupiter called the asteroid belt.

Meteors: A brief streak of light produced by a small particle entering Earths


atmosphere at a high speed.

Meteorite: A small object from outer space that passes through Earths
atmosphere and reaches the surface.

Meteoroid:
A solid body, moving in space, that is smaller than an asteroid and at least as large
as aspeck of dust.

Nucleus: The central, often brightest part of the head of a comet;


the solid part of a comet, composed of ice and smaller amounts of dust and rock.

Eclipse: An event during which one object in space casts a shadow onto another.
On Earth, a lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves through Earths shadow, and
a solar eclipse occurs when the Moons shadow crosses Earth.

Phase: a stage in a process of change or development

Waxing: the moon at any time after new moon and before full moon (illumination is
increasing)

Waning: the moon at any time after full moon and before new moon (illumination is
decreasing)

Crescent: part way between a half moon and a new moon, or between a
new moon and a half moon

Gibbous: seen with more than half but not all of the moon illuminated

Solar: relating to the sun;


determined from the motion of the earth relative to the sun

Lunar: involving, caused by, or affecting the moon

Alignment: Arrangement or position in a straight line or in parallel lines

Constellation: a group of stars that form a pattern in the sky.

Orbit: the path of an object in space as it moves around another object because of
gravity.