- the great circle on the celestial sphere intersecting the celestial equator at about 23° and representing the changing position of the sun with respect to the background stars, as seen from the orbiting earth during one year
- the plane of the earth's orbit extended infinitely
Origin of eclipticMiddle English ecliptik ; from Medieval Latin ecliptica ; from Late Latin (linea) ecliptica ; from Classical Greek ekleiptikos, of an eclipse
of eclipses or the ecliptic
- The plane defined by the earth's orbit projected onto the celestial sphere, along which the sun appears to move as viewed from the earth.
- A great circle inscribed on a terrestrial globe inclined at an approximate angle of 23°27&minute; to the equator and representing the apparent motion of the sun in relation to the earth during a year.
- The plane defined by the earth's solar orbit, with the sun at its center, that extends throughout the solar system.
Origin of eclipticMiddle English ecliptik, from Medieval Latin (l&imacron;nea) ecl&imacron;ptica, ecliptic (line), from Latin ecl&imacron;pticus, of an eclipse, from Greek ekleiptikos, from ekleipein, to fail to appear; see eclipse.
- (astronomy) The apparent path of the Sun in the sky. More accurately, it is the intersection of the celestial sphere with the plane of the ecliptic, which is the geometric plane containing the mean orbit of the Earth around the Sun. So named because an eclipse can occur only when the Moon lies on this plane.
- (geometry) A great circle drawn on a terrestrial globe, used for illustrating and solving astronomical problems.