Astronomy Answers: From the Astronomical Dictionary

Astronomy Answers
From the Astronomical Dictionary


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The description of the word you requested from the astronomical dictionary is given below.

the anomaly

anoomalia = [Greek] deviation, roughness

In astronomy, anomaly is used for different kinds of angles that are important when calculating the position of objects in their orbits. Below, several different anomalies are explained for the orbit of the Earth around the Sun (or rather: of the Earth around the barycenter of the Solar System, but that is almost the same thing), but they are also used for orbits of other celestial objects.

  1. The true anomaly is the angle (as seen from the Sun) between the Earth and the perihelion of the orbit of the Earth. When the true anomaly is equal to 0 degrees, then the Earth is closest to the Sun (or: in its perihelion). When the true anomaly is equal to 180 degrees, then the Earth is furthest from the Sun (in the aphelion).
  2. The mean anomaly is what the true anomaly would be if the Earth moved with constant speed along a perfectly circular orbit (with an eccentricity equal to zero) around the Sun in the same time. Just as for the true anomaly, the mean anomaly is equal to 0 in the perihelion and to 180 degrees in the aphelion, but at other points along the Earth's orbit the true and mean anomalies are not equal to one another. The mean anomaly is often used for one of the orbital elements.
  3. The eccentric anomaly is an angle that is related to both the mean and the true anomaly. You encounter this angle if you solve Kepler's Equation to find the true anomaly from the mean anomaly.