Quick Guide: Star Gazing Terms and Definitions

Investing in a pair of binoculars or an astronomical telescope is certainly along the right path for a successful life of star gazing. The UK’s winter sky is stunning to behold during every season, but during long winter night she’s really shows-off!
Here are a few terms and definitions to get the avid new stargazer well on their way to being the astrophysicist their new astronomical telescope wishes them to be!

Asteroids – One of the many thousands of lumps of rock orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Not all asteroids remain in this area – some pass very close to earth.
Binary – Two stars orbiting round each other. Usually they’re too close to be seen separately without binoculars or a telescope.
Eclipse – An eclipse can happen when any object moves into the shadow of another. A lunar eclipse is when the moon moves into the earth’s shadow. A solar eclipse is when the sun momentarily passes behind the moon.
Galaxy – A gigantic group of stars. The Milky Way contains about 100,000 million stars.
Light Year – The distance travelled by light in a year. The speed of light is just above 186,000 miles per second, making a light year roughly 6 billion miles.
Meteoroid – A piece of dust or rock flying free in space. If it enters the earth’s atmosphere it becomes a meteor. If a meteor strikes the earth it becomes a meteorite.  Millions of meteors enter the earth’s atmosphere every year, however few survive to hit the earth’s surface.
Nebula – A cloud of dust and gas within which new stars have formed or are forming.
Satellite – Any small celestial object orbiting another object is a satellite. Satellites can be manmade or natural. For example, the moon is a satellite to the earth.
Star – A luminous ball powered by nuclear fusion. The surface temperature of star ranges between 3,000°C to 50,000°C

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