The measure of the maximum angle between the true direction and the apparent direction of a celestial body as observed from earth due to aberration. It has a value of 20.496 seconds of arc. The aberration angle depends upon the ratio of the velocity of the earth in its orbit and the velocity of light in addition to the angle between the direction of the light and the direction of motion of the observing telescope. The maximum value is obtained when the celestial body is at the pole of the ecliptic.

Related Terms


  1. The apparent displacement of a celestial body in the direction of motion of the earth in its orbit caused by the motion of the earth combined with the finite velocity of light. When, in addition to the combined effect of the velocity of light and the motion of the earth, account is taken of the motion of the celestial body in space during the interval that the light is traveling to the earth from the luminous body, as in the case of planets, the phenomenon is termed planetary aberration. The aberration due to the rotation of the earth on its axis is termed diurnal aberration or daily aberration. The aberration due to the revolution of the earth about the sun is termed annual aberration. The aberration due to the motion of the center of mass of the solar system in space is termed secular aberration but is not taken into account in practical astronomy.
  2. The convergence to different foci, by a lens or mirror, of parallel rays of light. In a single lens having spherical surfaces, aberration may be caused by differences in the focal lengths of the various parts of the lens: rays passing through the outer part of the lens come to a focus nearer the lens than do rays passing through its central part. This is termed spherical aberration and, being due to the faulty figure of the lens, is eliminated by correcting that figure. A lens so corrected is called an aplanatic lens. Aberration may also result from differences in the wavelengths of light of different colors: light of the shorter wavelengths (violet end of the spectrum) comes to a focus nearer the lens than light of the longer wavelengths (red end of the spectrum). This is termed chromatic aberration, and is practically eliminated over a moderate range of wavelengths by using a composite lens, called an achromatic lens, composed of parts having different dispersive powers.


Time defined by the daily rotation of the earth with respect to the vernal equinox of the first point of Aries. Sidereal time is numerically measured by the hour angle of the equinox, which represents the position of the equinox in the daily rotation. The period of one rotation of the equinox in hour angle, between two successive upper meridian transits, is a sidereal day. It is divided into 24 sidereal hours, reckoned at upper transit which is known as sidereal noon. The true equinox is at the intersection of the true celestial equator of date with the ecliptic of date; the time measured by its daily rotation is apparent sidereal time. The position of the equinox is affected by the nutation of the axis of rotation of the earth, and the nutation consequently introduces irregular periodic inequities into the apparent sidereal time and the length of the sidereal day. The time measured by the motion of the mean equinox of date, affected only by the secular inequalities due to the precession of the axis, is mean sidereal time. The maximum difference between apparent mean sidereal times is only a little over a second and its greatest daily change is a little more than a hundredth of a second. Because of its variable rate, apparent sidereal time is used by astronomers only as a measure of epoch; it is not used for time inter- val. Mean sidereal time is deduced from apparent sidereal time by applying the equation of equinoxes.


The difference in apparent direction of a celestial body from a point on the surface of the earth and from the center of the earth. This difference varies with the body's altitude and distance from the earth. Also called DIURNAL PARALLAX.


Motion of one object relative to another. The expression is usually used in connection with problems involving motion of one vessel to another, the direction such motion being called DIRECTION RELATIVE MOVEMENT and the speed of the motion being called SPEED OF RELATIVE MOVEMENT or RELATIVE SPEED. Distance relative to a specified reference point, usually one in motion, is called RELATIVE DISTANCE. Usually called APPARENT MOTION applied to the change of position of a celestial body as observed from the earth. Also called RELATIVE MOTION.


The angular distance of a body of the solar system from the sun; the angle at the earth between lines to the sun and another celestial body of the solar system. The greatest elongation is the maximum angular distance of an inferior planet from the sun before it starts back toward conjunction. The direction of the body east or west of the sun is usually specified, as greatest elongation east (or west).


A correction due to parallax, particularly that sextant altitude correction due to the difference between the apparent direction from a point on the surface of the earth to celestial body and the apparent direction from the center of the earth to the same body.


The difference in the apparent direction or positions of a celestial body outside the solar system, as observed from the earth and sun. Also called STELLAR PARALLAX, ANNUAL PARALLAX


The act, process, or instance of change of position. Absolute motion is motion relative to a fixed point. Actual motion is motion of an object relative to the earth. Apparent or relative motion is change of position as observed from a reference point which may itself be in motion. Diurnal motion is the apparent daily motion of a celestial body. Direct motion is the apparent motion of a planet eastward among the stars; retrograde motion, the apparent motion westward among the stars. Motion of a celestial body through space is called space motion, which is composed of two components: proper motion, that component perpendicular to the line of sight; and radial motion, that component in the direction of the line of sight. Also called MOVEMENT, especially when used in connection with problems involving the motion of one vessel relative to another.


The component of the space motion of a celestial body perpendicular to line of sight, resulting in the change of a stars apparent position relative to other stars. Proper motion is expressed in angular units.


Local apparent time at the Greenwich meridian; the arc of the celestial equator, or the angle at the celestial pole between the lower branch of the Greenwich celestial meridian and the hour circle of the apparent or true sun, measured westward from the lower branch of the Greenwich celestial meridian through 24 hours, Greenwich hour angle of the apparent or true sun, expressed in time units, plus 12 hours.

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