A Short Dictionary of Astronomical Daffy-nitions
Many good books and texts on astronomy provide a helpful glossary of technical terms for the beginning reader. Useful as such lists are, they usually list only the standard definition of each term. Here are some decidedly non-standard alternatives for some important astronomical jargon.
- Antiproton: Whom Uncle Proton is married to.
- Apex: What the naturalist trained the apes to make
- Baryon: I am sorry, sir, you can?t go in there; the sign says Mr. Manilow is performing.
- Charge-coupled device: The electric chair
- Contact binary: Tango partners
- Continuous creation: Yet another non-technical physics book from Paul Davies or John Gribbin
- Convection Current: The electric chair
- Curve of Growth: What happens to the midriff bulge of an astronomy department administrator
- Declination: Thanks, Norbert, but I really don?t want to go out with you.
- Decoupling Era: What happened to marriage in the 1980?s and 1990?s
- Deferent: Oh, no, Dr. Sandage, I am sure your value for the Hubble constant is the right one.
- Degenerate Stars: A Hollywood orgy.
- Early-type star: Oh, I?m sorry Mr. Spielberg, I thought the cast party started at 8
- Einstein Ring: What Albert bought Mileva.
- Exit pupil: Another non-science major who didn?t finish Astronomy 101
- Fission: What some astronomers like to go do to relax during the summer
- Forbidden Line Transition: ?Nice weather we?re having?say, would you like to come up to my place and see my etchings??
- Great Red Spot: A popular nightclub in Beijing
- Green Flash: The brief period when dot.com?s were all the rage.
- G Star: Actor who appears mainly on the Disney Channel
- Hour Circle: What you do when your flight arrival is delayed over San Francisco
- Hubble?s Constant: What his wife Grace hoped he would always be
- Image Tube: Television set with the sound broken.
- Initial Mass Function: Celebration after a child?s first Communion
- International Date Line: Where lonely astronomers can call 24 hours a day
- Interstellar Medium: Fortune teller in Hollywood between jobs
- Inverse Square Law: Making a poem out of the Pythagorean theorem
- Jansky: What Jan uses to open his door
- Late-type Star: See early-type star and make your own joke. (Do we have to spell everything out for you?)
- Leap second: You have to; I leaped first.
- Lepton Era: When the big cats roamed the jungle.
- Light Year: When your classes were easy and you didn't have to take too many in your major.
- Line Broadening: What happens to an astronomer?s profile after age 50
- Local Group: The rock band that plays down the street
- Local Standard of Rest: Sorry, senor, we always close in the afternoon for a siesta.
- Main Sequence Turn-off Point: The moment in a long lecture on stellar evolution where students stop paying attention
- Messier Catalog: The one that got dropped in the mud
- Near Earth Object: Your astronomy textbook, just after you threw it out the window
- Olbers? Paradox: Before she had that operation, Mrs. Olbers wanted an opinion from another doctor
- Peculiar Motion: Astronomers trying to do the hula during a conference in Hawaii
- Photomultiplier: E-mail
- Prominence: Being invited to write a review paper for Annual Reviews
- Proper Motion: Bill to increase funding for astronomical research
- Recombination Line: Darling, I've never loved anyone but you; please take me back.
- Roche Limit: Enjoy it, Bill, but if you want to be president someday, perhaps you shouldn't inhale.
- Quantum Efficiency: Apartment unit in Tokyo
- Quasar Red Shift: Broken color control on famous brand TV
- Radio Burst: Time to get another set
- Red Giant: The basketball player who spent too much of the weekend on the beach.
- Sirius B: What Yoda was always trying to teach his apprentices
- Spectral Line: Beware, this house is haunted
- T Association: The Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse
- Tektite: Maybe piping some music into the dome will loosen him up
- Van Allen Belt: What Dr. Van Allen wears to hold up his pants
- Variable Star: The artist formerly known as Prince
My Delightful Definitions
Red Shift - what will happen if Obama is re-elected President in 2012 (according to some Republicans)
Wormholes - used by staff of the Space Station to go home for the weekend.
LCROSS - this is NOT a new sport. Real definition: The Launch Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.
NASA - No Aliens Seen Anywhere
Multiverse - when a group of poets speak at the same time (see two pictures below)
Contact me if you have more to share and I'll add them.