The latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy appeared at the start of 2012. It contains some 4,300 entries on all aspects of astronomy, astrophysics, and space science, written by a team of specialist contributors, both amateur and professional, under my editorship.
The size of the Dictionary has steadily grown since it was first published in 1997, when it contained nearly 4,000 entries. A heavily revised version appeared in 2003 in which the number of entries increased to over 4,000. In 2004 that revised edition was reprinted with further updates, mostly concerning space missions and observatories.
A second edition of the Dictionary was published in September 2007. For this, all entries were reviewed by a team of specialists, mostly different from those who had written the original entries. A new departure for this edition was the inclusion of URLs of websites, notably for space missions, observatories, various other institutions, and online catalogues. This 2007 second edition incorporated over 160 new entries, although some minor ones, particularly for small planetary satellites, were deleted.
The current printing is a revised version of the second edition, reset and with a new cover. It introduces over 50 new entries and a new table of planetary data, while nearly 500 other entries have been revised and updated. In this edition the URLs have been moved to a dedicated web page which also includes links to over 100 illustrations.
Updates, additions, and corrections to the 2012 edition will appear here as necessary. OUP’s online edition of the book is updated to incorporate these changes.
Addenda and corrigenda
Advanced Technology Solar Telescope: now the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST). Completion scheduled for 2019.
Apollo project: Neil Armstrong d.2012.
astronomical unit (au): the astronomical unit is now defined as 149 597 870 700 m exactly. The symbol is “au”. The Gaussian gravitational constant k is no longer used in defining the au.
Becklin–Neugebaeur object: Gerry (born Gerhart Otto) Neugebaeur d.2014.
BepiColombo: the launch date is now slated for 2017 and the arrival is 2024.
Ceres: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft went into orbit around it in 2015 March.
COROT: ceased observations 2012 November
Curiosity: launched 2011 November, landed 2012 August in a crater called Gale.
Dawn: departed Vesta 2012 September. Went into orbit around Ceres in 2015 March.
Deep Impact: the flyby of Comet Hartley was in 2010 November.
Dobsonian telescope: Dobson. d.2014.
European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT): diameter of main mirror is now reduced to 39.3 m, with nearly 800 segments each 1.4 m wide.
European Space Agency: ESA currently consists of 20 nations. Poland and Romania are now full members. Latvia is now a cooperating state.
ExoMars: now a joint mission between ESA and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos
Gaia: launched 2013 December.
Gaussian gravitational constant: it is no longer used for calculating the astronomical unit, which is now defined as a set distance.
gravitational force: in the equation, subscripts and superscripts should not be italic.
Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS): now cancelled.
Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL): launched 2011 September. Grail A and Grail B were renamed Ebb and Flow. Mission ended in 2012 December when the twin craft impacted the Moon.
Herbig Ae/Be star; Herbig–Haro object: Herbig d.2013.
Herschel Space Observatory: ceased observations in 2013 April.
Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS): launched 2013 June.
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope: now owned by the University of Hawaii and operated by the East Asian Observatory, a consortium of institutes in Taiwan, China, South Korea, and Japan, in collaboration with UK and Canadian universities.
James Webb Space Telescope: now scheduled for launch in 2018 October or later.
Joint Astronomy Center: Closed 2015 March 1. Ownership of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and UKIRT has been transferred to the University of Hawaii.
Juno mission: launched 2011 August. Due at Jupiter in 2016 July.
Kaguya (formerly Selene): impacted Moon 2009 June.
Lalande: second forename is Jérôme.
LISA Pathfinder: launched 2015 December 3.
Lovell, Bernard: d.2012.
Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE): launched 2013 September. End of mission 2014 April 18 (impacted the Moon).
Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS): launched in 2015 March.
Mars Science Laboratory: launched 2011 November, landed in 2012 August.
Neptune: discovery of a 14th moon by the Hubble Space Telescope was announced in 2013 July.
New Horizons: flew past Pluto in 2015 July.
NuSTAR: launched 2012 June 13.
Phobos-Grunt: launched 2011 November but failed to leave transfer orbit and re-entered 2012 January.
Pluto: A fifth moon was announced in 2012 July. The fourth and fifth moons are named Kerberos and Styx. Diameter from New Horizons is 2370 km.
Rosetta: Went into orbit around Comet C-G in 2014 September. Philae landed on the nucleus in 2014 November.
Solar Orbiter: launch now scheduled for 2018 October.
Square Kilometre Array: the component telescopes of the SKA will be sited jointly in South Africa and Australia. Construction starts in 2018 with completion due in 2030.
transit, planetary: the next two transits of Venus are on 2117 December 11 and 2125 December 08
trojans: first Earth Trojan discovered by WISE in 2011
UK Infrared Telescope: transferred to University of Hawaii in 2014 October. Now operated jointly by the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center.
Very Large Array: now renamed the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array
Vesta: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited Vesta for 14 months, between 2011 July and 2012 September, before moving on to Ceres which it reached in 2015 March.
VLBI Space Observatory Programme (VSOP): VSOP-2, aka ASTRO-G, now cancelled.
Have you found anything that needs changing? If so, please send me an email.
ian @ ianridpath.com
Page last updated 2015 December.