Coyle, Harold P. Harvard College Observatory, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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The alignment of three celestial objects within a solar system. Syzygy is most often used to refer to the alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Moon at the time of new or full moon. Although syzygy is strongly associated with these two lunar phases in many minds, it must be emphasized that the alignment of any three celestial objects within the solar system (or within any other system of objects in orbit about a star) constitutes syzygy. Alignments need not be perfect in order for syzygy to occur: because the orbital planes for any three bodies in the solar system rarely coincide, the geometric centers of three objects that are in syzygy almost never lie along the same line. See also: Phase (astronomy); Solar system
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