ecliptic coordinate system

Science Dictionary
ecliptic coordinate system  
The coordinate system in which a celestial object's position on the celestial sphere is described in terms of its celestial latitude and celestial longitude, measured with respect to the ecliptic. Celestial latitude is measured in degrees north or south of the ecliptic, and celestial longitude is measured in degrees eastward from the vernal equinox. Because the ecliptic is fixed among the stars (that is, it is unaffected by the precession of the Earth's axis), an object's celestial latitude does not alter over time. However, due to the gradual precession of the equinoxes westward along the ecliptic, an object's celestial longitude increases by about 1.4° each century. The ecliptic system is used by astronomers especially in describing the position of objects within the solar system. Compare altazimuth coordinate system, equatorial coordinate system.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: ecliptic
Next Definition: ecliptic latitude
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for ecliptic coordinate system
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing ecliptic coordinate system
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature