inferior planet


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Related to inferior planet: Interior planets

inferior planet,

planet whose orbit lies inside that of the earth. There are two inferior planets, Mercury and Venus. They always seem to be close to the sun in the sky; the greatest elongationelongation,
in astronomy, the angular distance between two points in the sky as measured from a third point. The elongation of a planet is usually measured as the angular distance from the sun to the planet as measured from the earth.
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 of Mercury is 28°, and that of Venus, 47°. For this reason, neither can be seen for more than two or three hours after sunset or before sunrise.

inferior planet

[in′fir·ē·ər ′plan·ət]
(astronomy)
A planet that circles the sun in an orbit that is smaller than the earth's.
References in periodicals archive ?
Furthermore, the illuminated proportions of inferior planets routinely shrink to nil.
Of the two inferior planets, Mercury, because of its unusual orbit, requires a special solution to the problem of the equant.
The possibility that the inferior planets might occasionally pass in front of the Sun was not considered until the early part of the seventeenth century, when Kepler predicted transits of both Mercury and Venus for 1631.

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