Glossary of Astronomical Terms
Anthropic Principle: The abundant evidence of fundamental constants of nature which occur within a highly specified and limited range, where outside of this range, life could not be supported on Earth. There are over 120 documented Anthropic constants which provide very strong evidence that life on Earth could not have happened by accident.
Antikythera Astrolabe: found in 1901 off the shores of the Greek Isle Antikythera, dated to about 82 BC, it is the most complex mechanical device constructed until the 12th Century AD. It provides astronomical calculations with 6 digit accuracy & applied the first known use of the "differential gear" in the history of engineering. This provides strong evidence of a much higher sophistication of astronomical knowledge at this time, than previously thought. References in the writings of Cicero make mention of a device similar to the antikythera astrolabe, providing additional evidence of this ancient technology.
Archaeo-Astronomy: Study of the practice and use of Astronomy in the history of ancient cultures. Prehistoric architecture and structural alignments in the landscape are of primary interest, with respect to stellar and planetary alignments, as well as associated written records and oral traditions.
Astrolabe: An astronomical computer that solves temporal problems by the position of the sun and stars, usually consisting of a disk and pointer. Typical examples are about six inches in diameter and made of brass.
Astrology: the pretended art of predicting the future from the motions and positions of the heavenly bodies. This also includes the general belief that human affairs and personal traits are influenced by the positions of the planets or stars. This occult practice is responsible for the corruption of much of the ancient knowledge of genuine Biblical Astronomy.
Astronomical Unit: [symbol: au] the mean distance between the Earth & Sun, utilized as a basic unit of distance particularly in the solar system. 1 au equals 92,956,000 miles.
Astronomy: the science describing the positions, motions, magnitudes & composition of the celestial bodies.
Azimuth: the point below the sun on the horizon.
Biblical Archeo-Astronomy: The multi-disciplinary approach that integrates Scriptural records with the astronomical and archeological records as they confirm the testimony of Jesus Christ and Biblical Astronomy with Historical records.
Big Bang Theory: The proposed beginning of the universe from an extremely high temperature and density point called a Singularity, ostensibly 12-20 billion years ago. Although it remains the most widely accepted current theory, it has lost ground in recent years to competitors like String Theory and various Field Theories which incorporate elements of eastern mysticism.
Binary Star: A double star system where two stars are tied together by their individual gravitional forces.
Black Hole: a localized region in space from which neither matter nor radiation can escape. The boundary of this region is called an event horizon. The Space surrounding Black Holes is believed to have infinite curvature, which classifies it as a type of Singularity. Black Holes
provide an important lesson in believing, just because you can't see them dosen't mean they aren't there.
Bode's Law: the numerical relationship of the mean distance of the planets from the sun. Named after German scientist Johann Bode (1747-1826), if one adds the number 4 to 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96 and 192, with each sum divided by 10 the totals reflect the mean distance of the planets from the sun in au's, from Mercury to Uranus including the Asteriod belt. This law does not work for Neptune and Pluto.
Broken Symmetry: In cosmology, a situation where an earlier more perfect symmertry is evident. Unlike chaos, the pieces of a broken symmetrical puzzle might be reassembled in a coherent and symmetrical whole.
Cardinal Directions: The compass points to the North, South, East and West. In ancient times the astronomers would view the zodiacal signs at these four corners of the heavens as key celestial markers that highlighted certain precessional ages. For example, the Age of Taurus was marked by the four signs; Aquarius, Leo, Scorpio & Taurus at the spring equinox. [Num. 24:7-9]
Causality: The idea that each situation must rest on a previous state. Aquinas argued that the First Cause was the Creator, and that Causality is one of the proofs of God's existence.
Celestial Equator: the great circle in the heavens directly over the Earth's Equator.
Celestial Meridian: A line on the Celestial Sphere passing overhead joining the Celestial poles.
Celestial Pole: the point in the heavens directly over the Earth's North and South Poles; in the North located less than a degree from the star Polaris, in Ursa Major.
Celestial Sphere: An imaginary transparent globe encircling the Earth, used by astronomers for locating the positions of the heavenly bodies.
Circumpolars: stars and Constellations around the Celestial North Pole that never set.
Conjunction: the alignment of a superior planet with the Sun and Earth, where the planet is on the opposite side of the Sun and Earth. Also the alignment of planets with other planets, or stars of our solar system, from Earth's viewpoint.
Conservation Laws: Universal laws that identify a quantity like energy, that remains invariant through the process of a transformation. The laws of conservation are are believed to be based on Symmetry.
Constellation: a configuration of stars around which, since extreme antiquity, an imaginary pictorial representation has been drawn in order to preserve the star names contained therein.
Cosmic Background Radiation: Pervasive microwave radio emmissions whose properties correspond to the photons ostensibly released and predicted by the Big Bang.
Cosmogony: Study of the origins of the Universe.
Cosmology: The branch of the science of the Universe as a systematic whole. This branch of study unifies the areas of Astronomy, mathematics, geometry and Physics to understand the make-up and development of the universe.
Decans: Thirty-six timetelling stars from ancient zodiacs, whose morning risings were linked to 36 administrative weeks of the year in ancient Egypt, and whose nocturnal risings marked the 12 hours of darkness.
Creationism: The belief based on Scripture, along strong Cosmological and Teleological evidence that the Universe was Created by God in the not too distant past. Also that the various forms of Earthly life did not appear as a result of Darwinian evolution.
Doppler Shift: Change in the apparent wavelength of light or sound emitted from a moving body. For example a star moving away from an observer will be shifted toward the lower frequency [red shifted] of the Spectrum. This has provided fundamental evidence of the Expansion of the Universe foretold many places in Scripture centuries prior to its scientific discovery in the 20th Century. [Isa. 40:22, 42:5, 45:8-12, 48:13, 51:13-16, Jer. 10:12, 51:15, Zech. 12:1]
Ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun through the heavens during the course of a year as it passes through the 12 constellations of the zodiac. [Ps.19:1-7]
Eclipse: When one celestial body [Sun/Moon] covers another celestial body.
Electronuclear force: A single fundamental force that is thought to have functioned in the very early stages of the Big Bang combining the forces of the electromagnetic along with the weak and strong nuclear forces. This is a type of grand unified theory.
Empiricism: A primary emphasis on materialist data and evidence as the source of knowledge, as opposed to reasoning or metaphysical explanations.
Entropy: the quantitiy that specifies the disorder or randomness of a physical system. Thus it is dissymetry in nature which declares that in any process, some energy will be wasted. Energy can be extracted from a system only as it changes to a less ordered state. Entropy is also the only law that defines the direction of time. As time advances Entropy increases.
Equator: the terrestrial Equator lies midway between the North and Southern Poles, dividing the Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and is the zero line from which Latitude is measured.
Equinox: the time when the Sun is overhead at noon on the Equator. This occurs twice a year, in the Spring and Fall, when the length of the day and night are equal. The spring equinox is also called the vernal point.
Expansion of the Universe: A continual increase over time in the space separating distant galaxies from each other. This expansion does not occur within galaxies or clusters held together by gravity, but between galactic superclusters.
Fibonacci Series: a mathematical sequence called a recursive series, in which each term of the sequence is formed by the addition of the two terms preceding it. The sequence starts 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21...etc. As this ratio grows, the ratio of successive terms approaches the golden section ( golden mean) at higher levels of accuracy.
Geocentric: the word used to describe the systemof the planetary motion centered around the Earth. This system was proposed by Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD, holding sway until Copernicus.
Geodesy: a scientific method for measuring large distances, allowing for the curvature of the Earth.
Golden Section: Classical ratio generated when a line is divided into two parts where the ratio of the shorter line to the longer is, as the longer is to the whole.
Gnomon: any object that casts a shadow whose length or position is used to tell time or geographical direction.
Heliacal Rising: the first appearance of a star or Constellation in the morning sky before dawn, after a period of being hidden by the Sun.
Galaxy: A large aggregate of stars held together by gravity. There are 3 major types of galaxies-elliptical, irregular and spiral, of which our Milky Way Galaxy is an example.
Gamma Rays: Extremely short wave electromagnetic energy in the light Spectrum.
Gravity: A universal mutual attraction of all massive objects for each other, its force directly relating to the Mass of the object. Gravitational force is a fundamental force of nature, generated by all particles having Mass.
Heliacal Setting: the last appearance of a star or Constellation in the evening sky after sunset, preceding a period of being hidden by the Sun.
Hubble Constant: The rate of the Expansion of the Universe. Hubble Law shows the direct correlation between the speed at which galaxies are receding from each other with the distance separating them.
Hyksos: Asiatic "Shepherd Kings" also called the "Pali Shepherds" who invaded Egypyt and formed the 15th and 16th Egyptian Dynasties. They left Egypt at the founding of the 18th Dynasty by Ahmosis I.
Intelligent Design: the school of thought that holds God as the Creator, and looks for evidence of His Hand in His Creation. The Order underlying the Natural World is of primary interest, and the idea that certain aspects of the Natural Order could not have come about by chance, or on their own. The Creator's purposes in Creation should be considered to gain true insights into His Design Principles.
Infared light: Light in the electromagnetic Spectrum having a slightly longer wavelength than visible light.
Inferior Conjunction: a direct alignment of an inferior planet (Mercury or Venus), with the Earth and the Sun, when the planet lies between the two.
Intercalary month: a month inserted during the year to harmonize a drifting calendar, keeping the year in line with celestial cycles, such as seasons.
Latitude: the angular distance of a specific point on the Earth's surface from the Earth's Equator. Celestial Latitude is a body measured on the Celestial Sphere, at right angles to the ecliptic.
Line of Nodes: an imaginary line through the plane of the ecliptic joining the two lunar nodes. A Node is one of two points in a celestial orbit at which the heavenly body cuts the ecliptic. Ascending and Descending nodes denote when the celestial body rises above, or dips below the ecliptic.
Longitude: angular measurement around the Earth, usually in degrees East or West of an imaginary North-South line, called Prime Meridian, through Greenwich England. Celestial longitude is a coordinate on the Celestial Sphere, measured East from the vernal point to the Great Circle passing through the ecliptical pole, and the measured object.
Lunar Month: the 29.5 days between successive New Moons.
Magi: the genuine sect of court astronomers from ancient Persia who learned the tenets of the Astronomy of the Biblical Patriarchs under the tutelage of the Prophet Daniel when he was the cheif astronomer under the rule of Darius "the Mede."[Dan. 5:31] The other major sect of Magians promoted and followed occult astrological practices and other forms of "magic."
Mass: A measure of the amount of matter in any object. Gravitational Mass shows its response to Gravitational force.
Materialism: The belief that material objects and their interaction constitute the complete reality of all phenomena, including even such insubstantial elements as thoughts and dreams.
Metonic Cycle: a 19-year cycle equalling 235 lunar months, amounting to almost 6,940 days. This cycle is named after the Greek astronomer Meton, of the late 5th century BC, but was known to the ancient Babylonians earlier in the same century.
Mul Apin Tablets: dating from the 8th Century BC, but incorporating material from at least 500 years earlier, these Babylonian astronomical texts list the risings of 18 stars and constellations on the zodiacal belt, in terms of a year of 12 months.
New Moon: the first of the lunar phases , when the Moon lies between the Earth and Sun and is thus invisible.
obliquity of the Ecliptic: this refers to the angle of the Earth's axis tilt, currently 23 degrees 27 minutes from vertical. The obliquity of the ecliptic also determines the boundaries of the tropics 23 degrees 27 minutes North and South of the Equator.
Occultation: the temporary concealment of one celestial body by another, especially of a star by our Moon or a Planet.
Opposition: the direct alignment of a superior planet with the Earth and the Sun, when the Earth lies between the planet and the Sun.
Penumbra: at a total Solar Eclipse, a ring of paler shadow surrounding the central region where the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon.
Photons: The quanta of Electromagnetic force. Photons are massless and thus can travel an infinite distance.
Physics: The study of the interactions of Matter and energy.
Planet: A celestial body having more Mass than an asteriod but less than a star. Planets shine due to reflected light whereas stars generate their own light.
Plasma: The fourth state of matter consisting of electrons and other subatomic particles not more highly ordered than atomic nuclei.
Precession of the Equinoxes: the retrograde movement of the vernal point through the constellations. The Sun passes through one 30 degree arc-sign in an average of 2,160 years, called a precessional age. The positions of the backdrop of the constellations change very slowly, about 1 degree every 72 years, and the vernal point completes a full circle of the zodiac every 25,920 years.
Ptolemaic System: the earth-centered or geocentric model of the universe as proposed by Claudius Ptolemy, the astronomer from
Alexandria, in Egypt.
Quantum Mechanics: a branch of Mechanics used in the study of elementary particles. It is based on Max Planck's theory of emission and absorption of finite quanta of energy. The Quantum world is mainly concerned with accounting for the weak and strong nuclear forces, of the four fundamental forces of Physics. Relativity accounts for the other two forces, gravity and electromagnetism.
Relativity Theory: the principle that all motion is relative. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity (1905) adds to this postulate, that the speed of light is always constant, relative to observers & derives important equations and predictions concerning gravitation and motion at constant velocity. His General Theory of Relativity (1916) deals in addition with acceleration.
Retrograde Motion: meaning to “step backwards,”applied to the apparent backwards motion of a planet along the zodiacal belt, produced by the orbital motion of the Earth.
Saros: cycle of eclipses over an approximate 19-year period, including 14 partial eclipses, 17 annular eclipses, 10 solar eclipses and 29 lunar eclipses, totaling 70.
Sexegesimal: a term applied to a system of calendrical counting on a base 60 numerical order.
Sidereal Month: the time it takes the Moon to move around the sky with respect to the stars. The mean sidereal month is 27.3 days.
Singularity: A point of infinite curvature of space where the priciples of General Relativity break down. A black hole is an example of this along perhaps with the first stages of the Big Bang.
Solar Eclipse: when the Moon moves between the Earth and Sun, blocking sunlight.
Solstice: the time when the Sun reaches its greatest angular distance from the Celestial Equator, leading the year's longest day and shortest night in one hemisphere and vice versa in the other hemisphere..
Sothic Calendar: introduced in ancient Egypt as the first known calendar year of 365 days. It is based on the star Sirius, completing its cycle every 1,460 years (4 x 365), at which time it would rise again on the same date. Archeological evidence supports this calendar in use in Egypt at least as early as 4241 BC, if not sooner.
Space-Time: The arena in which events are depicted in the Theory of Relativity.The orbit of our planet is said to occur in 4D Space-Time CONTINUUM.
Strong Nuclear force: a fundamental force of nature that binds quarks and nucleons together as the nuclei of atoms.
Supernova: a stellar explosion where virtually an entire star is disrupted. For a short time the light of a supernova may outshine all other stars in it's galaxy, being about 1,000 million times brighter than our Sun.
Symmetry: in mathematics this is a similarity between different parts of an object. A symmetrical figure is one that has a line or a point about which certain operations, like reflection, rotation and translation, produce the same figure. For example, a circle has rotational Symmetry, which remains unchanged after a transformation. Symmetry is a key in understanding the Creator's Intelligent Design. Generally, there is an invariant mathematical measure at the basis of symmetrical objects, like pi in a circle.
Symmetry Breaking: The loss of Symmetry in a transformation. Since the original Creation is considered an earlier more perfect symmetry, we can view the increase of disorder, darkness and evil as Symmetry breaking events.
Synodic Period: period of apparent revolution of one celestial body about another one as observed from the Earth. A Synodic Month is the period between two indentical phases of the Moon.
transit: The passage of a smaller nearer celestial body in front of a larger body like the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun.
Tropic of Cancer: line of Latitude currently 23 degrees 27 minutes North of the Equator marking the northern boundary of the tropics. It marks the northern most position at which the Sun appears directly overhead at noon.
Tropic of Capricorn: line of Latitude currently 23 degrees 27 minutes South of the Equator marking the southern boundary of the tropics. It marks the farthest southern position at which the Sun appears directly overhead at noon.
Ultraviolet light: Electromagnetic radiation in the light Spectrum of a wavelength slightly shorter than visible light.
Uniformitarianism: The hypothesis that extensive changes in the earth, according to the geological record, have resulted from slow changes of wind volcanism and weather and other similar natural forces as opposede to sudden catastrophic changes.
Venn Diagram: a graphic representation named after British logician John Venn (1834-1923) where the relation between mathematical sets or logical statements are depicted. The sets are usually drawn as circles, like the vesica for example, where the circles overlap, showing where different sets share some elements. The Northern astronomical vesica, illustrates the precession of the pole star from Thuban of Draco to Polaris of Ursa Minor over the last 5000 years.
Weak Nuclear force: a fundamental force of nature governing the process of radioactivity, currently explained by the Electroweak Theory.
X-Rays: Shortwave electromagnetic energy that lies between Gamma Rays and UV rays on the light Spectrum.
Zenith: the point on the Celestial Sphere directly overhead anywhere on the Earth's surface.
Ziggurat: Step-Pyramid temples of ancient Sumeria, and Mespotamia. A well known example is the Tower of Babel, which was an early, if not the first case where a people took the original principles of the Astronomy of the Biblical Patriarchs and perverted them for their own use. Many have overlooked this early evidence from the Biblical record of the zodiac in ancient Babylon. Genesis 11:4 literally states "a tower whose top is a representation of the heavens, similar to the Egyptian Dendera zodiac.
Zodiac: belt on the Celestial Sphere that forms the background for the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets (except Pluto). The zodiac was divided into 12 signs named after the constellations they contained since antiquity, but the constellations now on the zodiac no longer correspond to these signs of old, due to precession. Although many of these zodiacal signs resemble animals, contrary to popular opinion the term "zodiac" derives from the ancient lanuages with the meaning of a "way or a step," depicting the path of the Sun on the ecliptic.
Zoroastrianism: ancient Persian monotheistic religion whose leader was Zoroaster. Its sacred writings are found in the Zend Avesta. This religion shared many common ideals in agreement with the Biblical Jehovah, the God of Moses and the ancient Hebrews.