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Winter, spring, summer, or fall. Change of seasons caused by the tilt
of the Earth's axis and the revolution of the Earth around the Sun.
The star around which the Earth and the other planets in our Solar System
revolve. The Sun is a medium-sized star; it appears larger than other stars
because it is the star nearest to Earth. The diameter of the Sun is more than
100 times larger than the Earth's diameter; more than a million Earths would fit
inside the Sun's volume!
A line of longitude (either on the Earth's surface or projected into
space). The word "meridian" is Latin for "mid-day."
A smaller body which revolves around a planet. For example, "the Moon"
revolves around the Earth approximately once every 30 days (one month). The
diameter of the Moon is about 1/4 the Earth's diameter.
The study of outer space.
Milky Way:
The faint band of light arching across the sky, which is due to the
many stars and diffuse nebulae (clouds of dust and gas) lying near the plane of
our galaxy. The Milky Way is difficult to see in the light-polluted skies of
urban areas.
The portion of the celestial sphere near the north celestial pole
that is always above the horizon. Circumpolar literally means "around the pole
(or Polaris)." Circumpolar constellations are visible every night of the year;
all other constellations are seasonal.
Polaris (North Star):
A star approximately at the north celestial pole (the
North Pole on Earth projected onto the sky). Polaris is now the north pole star;
there is no south pole star. Polaris is the moderately bright star at the end of
the handle of Ursa Minor (Little Dipper).
Pointer Stars:
The two stars in the end of the cup of the Big Dipper (Merak and
Dubhe) which point toward Polaris (the North Star).
A pattern of stars named for a particular object, person, or
animal; one of 88 areas dividing the sky. Constellation literally means "stars
(-stellation) together (con-)."
A small body of icy and dusty matter, which revolves around the Sun. When
a comet comes near the Sun, some of its material vaporizes, forming a large coma
of tenuous (thin and wispy) gas, and often a tail.
A portion of a meteor that survives passage through the atmosphere
and strikes the ground, making an impact crater.
Meteor/Meteor Shower:
Also known as a "shooting-" or "falling star," a meteor is
a streak of light across the sky caused by a small piece of Solar System debris,
usually a sand-sized particle, which burns up while colliding at great speed
A synonym for "minor planet." The asteroid belt is located between the
orbits of Mars and Jupiter
Moon Phases:
Regular cycle of change in the apparent shape of the Moon caused by
the revolution of the Moon around the Earth. There are eight named phases: New
Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous,
Last Quarter, Waning Crescent.
Ninth planet (and farthest) from the Sun in the Solar System. Smallest
planet in the Solar System
Eigth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The other "Blue Planet"
in the Solar System, Neptune's atmosphere is mostly methane gas.
Pluto: Ninth planet (and farthest) from the Sun in the Solar System. Smallest
planet in the Solar System.
Seventh planet from the Sun in the Solar System.
Sixth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Second largest planet in
the Solar System. The "ringed" planet.
Fifth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Largest planet in the
Solar System.
Fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The "red" planet. The
planet most like Earth, although Mars is much colder than Earth!
The third planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Our home planet
The second planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Often called the
"morning star" or "evening star" due to its apparent brightness (caused by its
highly reflective atmosphere). The hottest planet in the Solar System.
Nearest planet to the Sun in the Solar System. Mercury is the fastest
planet in the Solar System, but not the hottest!
Any of the nine large bodies revolving around the Sun. As a group, the
Sun and its nine planets are known as the Solar System.
A huge, self-luminous (glowing) sphere of gas (mostly hydrogen and
post meridiem (Latin), that is, after the Sun crosses the meridian (after
ante meridiem (Latin), that is, before the Sun crosses the meridian
(before noon).
The period of time either just before sunrise or just after sunset
when the sky is lighted but the Sun is below the horizon. In Washington, D.C.,
Civil Twilight usually lasts approximately 30 minutes.
The event or time of the daily disappearance of the Sun (upper limb)
below the western horizon.

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