Pasachoff, Jay M. Hopkins Observatory, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:November 2019
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The apparent path of the Sun across the sky over the course of a year. The Earth's mean orbit defines the ecliptic plane, and an observer on Earth sees the Sun, traveling in this plane over the course of a year, follow the ecliptic. The orbits of the Moon and planets are at slight angles to the ecliptic, but these objects never appear too far in the sky from the ecliptic, which is often drawn on star maps. The ecliptic was identified by Greek and Babylonian scientists in about the fifth century B.C.
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