WORD LISTS

Over The Moon: Planetary Vocabulary

August 9, 2020
Planets and their moons have complex relationships as they spin through space around the sun. These words describe their motions and relationships, and will help you understand the gravity of the situation.
apogee
From the Greek apogaion, literally meaning "away from the Earth," apogee refers to the point in the moon's elliptical orbit that's farthest from the Earth.
When the moon is far, it is at apogee.
asteroid
Aster is "star" in Greek, so an asteroid is a star-like object: a bright dot visible to the naked eye, but moving differently than the stars.
Last November Hayabuse2 finally left its orbit around the asteroid and began its one-year journey home.
atmosphere
The presence of methane increases the amount of heat trapped in the atmosphere.
axis
Axis is Latin, and it's also the source of axle the rod around which a wheel rotates.
This led to the recognition of regular changes in key astronomical parameters: the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, and the obliquity and precession of Earth’s rotational axis.
crater
In Ancient Greece, a crater was a bowl in which water and wine were mixed for drinking.
The robotic explorer would be NASA’s fifth rover on Mars, and it is very similar to Curiosity, which is now exploring the Gale crater.
eccentricity
An eccentric orbit is not circular. An eccentric person is odd, quirky, a little off-center.
This led to the recognition of regular changes in key astronomical parameters: the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit around the Sun, and the obliquity and precession of Earth’s rotational axis.
geocentric
After all, the geocentric Ptolemaic theory of epicycles was mathematically appealing and its framework was broad enough to describe the motion of all planets on the sky.
gibbous
Gibbus means "bump" or "hump" in Latin, so a gibbous moon is one that's moving towards its full phase.
It was the moon—a 93.6% waxing gibbous at time of writing.
heliocentric
Based on Polish mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus’s model, this heliocentric description challenged the teaching that the Sun revolved around Earth.
lunar
“The prospect of deploying an advanced reactor to the lunar surface is as exciting as it is challenging.”
meteor
Often the gathering coincides with the Perseids, a spectacular meteor shower.
orbit
Orbis means "spherical" in Latin; it's where we get orb from as well.
In May 1962, Scott Carpenter became the second U.S. astronaut, after Glenn, to orbit Earth.
perigee
The opposite of apogee, above.
The phenomenon happens when the celestial satellite reaches its closest point to Earth - known as a perigee - and is on the opposite side of Earth to the sun.
planetarium
If you’ve ever been to a planetarium, perhaps you remember seeing a vibrant representation of a night sky from the perspective of where you were sitting in that moment.
pole
He noted that E arth’s poles influence weather conditions far away, where hundreds of millions of people live.
retrograde
Sometimes planets appear to move "backwards," that is in the opposite direction from their normal paths through the sky. It's just a function of the way the Earth's orbit and theirs line up sometimes. Retrograde can also be used to describe people, opinions, or legislation that are backwards or which seem intent on moving society in reverse.
Jonathan Kaplan, a clinical psychologist in New York, recently noticed that more and more of his clients are referring to Mercury being in retrograde.
rotation
Litvinyuk is impressed by the measurements of the rotation of the clock hand.
satellite
The pictures are the first released from the Solar Orbiter satellite mission, led by the European Space Agency.
terrestrial
It was that the neutrinos were not making it to our terrestrial detectors—or rather they were changing en route.
wax
Wax is a Germanic word, and describes the moon growing larger each night as it becomes full.
Sunspot activity waxes and wanes, oscillating over an 11 year period.
wane
The opposite of wax: when the moon becomes thinner, moving towards new, or anything else that diminishes in intensity or force.
In the following years, antitrust enforcement waxed or waned depending on the administration in office; but after 1980, it virtually disappeared.

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