- the great circle formed by the intersection of the plane of the earth's orbit with the celestial sphere; the apparent annual path of the sun in the heavens.
- an analogous great circle on a terrestrial globe.
adjective Also e·clip·ti·cal.
Origin of ecliptic
Examples from the Web for ecliptic
Sirius seems to recede from the ecliptic about two minutes per century.The Mosaic History of the Creation of the World|Thomas Wood
Those near the pole of the ecliptic will describe circles, being always at right angles to the motion.Pioneers of Science|Oliver Lodge
The second table mentions some only of the same stars, with their longitudes and latitudes, as referred to the ecliptic.Chaucer's Works, Volume 3 (of 7)|Geoffrey Chaucer
An imaginary belt in the heavens, of the breadth of 12, along the middle of which runs the ecliptic.
If the ecliptic relates only to the heavens, why is it described upon the terrestrial globe?Conversations on Natural Philosophy, in which the Elements of that Science are Familiarly Explained|Jane Haldimand Marcet and Thomas P. Jones
British Dictionary definitions for ecliptic
- the great circle on the celestial sphere representing the apparent annual path of the sun relative to the stars. It is inclined at 23.45° to the celestial equator. The poles of the ecliptic lie on the celestial sphere due north and south of the plane of the ecliptic
- (as modifier)the ecliptic plane
Word Origin and History for ecliptic
late 14c., "the circle in the sky followed by the Sun," from Medieval Latin ecliptica, from Late Latin (linea) ecliptica, from Greek ekliptikos "of an eclipse" (see eclipse (n.)). So called because eclipses happen only when the Moon is near the line. Related: Ecliptical.