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Telescope and Astronomy words, terms and definitions

Here are common words for telescopes and astronomy in general.


Aperture - This the opening of the telescope. The size of the lens or mirror.

Aurora - Various colored lights in the northern and southern skies. They often resemble shimmering curtains. Also referred to as the Northern and Southern Lights. The technical terms are the Aurora Borealis (north) and Aurora Australis (South)

Constellation - An arrangement of stars in the sky that are referred to by a name and their resemblance to something. Examples are Gemini and Aquarius.

Corona - Halo of light around the sun, visible to the naked eye only during an eclipse.

Declination - The Angular distance of a celestial body north or south of the celestial equator

Double Star - Two stars that are revolving around each other. They actually revolve around a common center. There is also another type of double star that is two stars in the sky that appear very close together but actually aren't. One is further away than the other. They just appear to be close to each other.

Eclipse - This is where one celestial body moves in front of another, blocking it from sight. There are two common types of eclipses: A solar eclipse is where the moon gets in front of the sun. And there is a Lunar eclips where the earth gets in front of the sun casting a shadow on the moon.

Galaxy - An enormous system of millions of stars revolving in a circular or spiral pattern. We are in the Milky Way galaxy and the nearest galaxy to us is the Andromeda Galaxy.

Light Year - The distance light travels in one year.

Meteor Shower - A series of streaky flashes in the night sky. Often referred to as falling stars. These streaks of light are caused by tiny particles of dust and debris and they light up as they enter the atmosphere and burn up.

Newtonian telescope - A basic type of telescope invented by Sir Isaac Newton. It has a mirror which reflects and focuses light. Then a secondary mirror which redirects the light out the side of the telescope tube.

Opposition -

Parabola - The shape of the curved mirror of a reflecting telescope. It is slightly different than a spherical curve.

Reflecting Telescope (Reflector)- A telescope with a mirror as the primary light gatherer. The mirror is curved so the light is bent to a point.

Refracting Telescope (Refractor)- A telescope with a lens as the primary light gatherer. The light is bent as it passes through the glass.

Right Ascension - The angular distance of a celestial object to the east or west of the prime celestial meridian

Satellite - A smaller body revolving around a larger body. Often referred to as a moon. Can also be a man made object.

Supernova -

Transit -


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