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Index:
A B C D E F & G H & I J, K & L M
N & O P Q & R S T, U & V W, X, Y & Z


Glossary: N

Nadir A term used to describe a point directly underneath an object or body.
Nebula A cloud of dust and gas in space, usually illuminated by one or more stars. Nebulae represent the raw material the stars are made of.
Neptune 8th planet
Neutrino A fundamental particle produced by the nuclear reactions in stars. Neutrinos are very hard to detect because the vast majority of them pass completely through the Earth without interacting.
Neutron Star A compressed core of an exploded star made up almost entirely of neutrons. Neutron stars have a strong gravitational field and some emit pulses of energy along their axis. These are known as pulsars.
Newton's First Law of Motion A body continues in its state of constant velocity (which may be zero) unless it is acted upon by an external force.
Newton's Second Law of Motion For an unbalanced force acting on a body, the acceleration produced is proportional to the force impressed; the constant of proportionality is the inertial mass of the body.
Newton's Third Law of Motion In a system where no external forces are present, every action force is always opposed by an equal and opposite reaction.
Nova A star that flares up to several times its original brightness for some time before returning to its original state.
Nuclear Fusion The nuclear process whereby several small nuclei are combined to make a larger one whose mass is slightly smaller than the sum of the small ones. Nuclear fusion is the reaction that fuels the Sun, where hydrogen nuclei are fused to form helium.


Glossary: O

Oblateness A measure of flattening at the poles of a planet or other celestial body.
Obliquity The angle between a body's equatorial plane and orbital plane.
Occultation An event that occurs when one celestial body conceals or obscures another. For example, a solar eclipse is an occultation of the Sun by the Moon.
Occultation  The hiding of one object in the sky by another. e.g.. When the Moon passes in front of a planet or star.
Oort Cloud A theoretical shell of comets that is believed to exist at the outermost regions of our solar system. The Oort cloud was named after the Dutch astronomer who first proposed it.
Open Cluster A collection of young stars that formed together. They may or may not be still bound by gravity. Some of the youngest open clusters are still embedded in the gas and dust from which they formed.
Open Star Cluster  A lose grouping of stars numbering from a few dozen to hundreds.
Opposition The position of a planet when it is exactly opposite the Sun in the sky as seen from Earth. A planet at opposition is at its closest approach to the Earth and is best suitable for observing.   i.e. Object-Earth-Sun in line.
Orbit The path of a celestial body as it moves through space.
Orion Constellation

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