superior planets


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Related to superior planets: Interior planets

superior planets

The planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, which orbit the Sun at distances greater than that of the Earth.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006

Superior Planets

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The original meaning of the word superior was “above.” In the concept of the universe that was prevelant prior to the Copernican revolution, when Earth was thought to be the stable center around which every other celestial body revolved, the orbits of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were considered to be “above” the orbit of the Sun. These three planets were thus referred to as the superior planets. The evaluative connotations of the term have caused this expression to be dropped in favor of outer planets.

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References in periodicals archive ?
Likewise, Spearman's Principle favours Copernicus's theory even though in order for Copernicus's theory to account for the constraint governing the oppositions of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, it must set the parameter specifying the number of superior planets to a particular value (namely, three).
The point is that although Copernicus's theory requires that the parameter for the number of superior planets be fixed to three, and so takes on the challenge of explaining that value, Ptolemy's theory has taken on exactly the same explanatory challenge, and the challenge does not appear easier for Ptolemy's theory to meet than for Copernicus's.
Along the lines of the latter thought, perhaps (to switch examples) it was the simplicity and generality of the correlation between any superior planet's opposition and its maximal brilliance that led Copernican astronomers to suggest that this constraint should be accounted for independent of the particular values of free parameters.

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