also siderial, 1630s, "star-like;" 1640s, "of or pertaining to the stars," earlier sideral (1590s), from French sidereal (16c.), from Latin sidereus "starry, astral, of the constellations," from sidus (genitive sideris) "star, group of stars, constellation," probably from PIE root *sweid- "to shine" (cf. Lithuanian svidus "shining, bright"). Sidereal time is measured by the apparent diurnal motion of the fixed stars. The sidereal day begins and ends with the passage of the vernal equinox over the meridian and is about four minutes shorter than the solar day, measured by the passage of the sun over the meridian.