Orbit (noun, “OR-bit”)
This is the curved path that an object takes around a star, planet or moon. When an object has made one full trip around, it’s completed a single orbit. Just because it’s going around, though, doesn’t mean that an object’s orbit is a circle. Often, an object’s orbit is a little more oval. This is known as orbital eccentricity.
When scientists send up a probe to orbit a planet, moon or star, that probe is called an orbiter. Other spacecraft may fly by, stay for a very short time to collect information or just go ahead and land on a planet or moon. But an orbiter must be able to enter into an orbit and stay there, which is a pretty big challenge.
The word “orbit” comes from the Latin word “orbita.” That means “the path of a heavenly body.” But orbits don’t have to be heavenly. In physics, we say the negatively-charged electrons of an atom orbit about its center.
In a sentence
There are 12 new moons around Jupiter, and one is an oddball orbiting in the wrong direction.
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