The Grand Cosmos ~ Grandiloquent Words
The word cosmos is used to refer to an orderly and harmonious universe, a universe which is neither chaotic or random. The word is derived directly from the Greek kosmos and its earliest known written usage dates from 1596.
We employ the word cosmic when we want to indicate that something, some event, or some process is of vast proportions, not unlike the vastness of extraterrestrial space. In philosophy the term may refer to abstract, spiritual, or metaphysical ideas and concepts, and the word cosmic can be found in manuscripts as early as 1685.
Nebulae are breathtakingly beautiful and they are composed of nothing more that swirling, drifting, irregularly shaped clouds of dust or gas (or some combination of the two) in interstellar space. They make up a very small percentage of any particular galaxies mass. We all have our favorite nebula: the Crab Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula, the Nebula. Some nebulae reflect the light of nearby stars, but some generate light from within their centers.
The word nebula comes to us from the Greek nephele’ or nephos which had to do with clouds. It was then transmitted through Old High German where the term meant fog and through Latin where the term meant mist or cloud. Interestingly, you will find the word nebula in a Medical Dictionary, where it is used to describe a cornea which has a slightly clouded and opaque area.
Planets - Inert Bodies
When we think of the universe or the cosmos around us, we of course think of planets; these are natural bodies which do not house any internal thermonuclear fusion process generating heat. For centuries, perhaps even millenia, mankind thought of the Planets in our own solar system -- Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars (the terrestrial planets), Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus (the giant or Jovian planets which have no solid surface and are composed of gases and liquids).
Relatively recently in human history we have come to understand planets as any large body that revolve around a star, in other words there are many solar systems; we are not the only one. Whether we are the only inhabited system seems unlikely, but we have no solid evidence to the contrary at this point.
Planets - Wandering Stars
The word planet comes to us from Middle English, adopted from Anglo-French, which came from Late Latin (planeta) – which was borrowed from the Greek planes, which meant literally “ wanderer, those objects which wandered among the fixed (to the ancient eyes) stars in the heavens. The earliest use of the word found to date is in a 13th century manuscript.
Also fascinating is the word planetary which has several meanings: anything which is erratic or wanders; anything relating to or resembling a planet; any project or undertaking of gigantic proportions; and as an alternative to the word terrestrial which indicates anyting belonging to the earth.
Astronomy is the discipline or science which investigates the beginning, development, physical properties, chemical composition of all the objects and matter scattered throughout the Cosmos. It is an extremely old science and there is evidence that it was practiced in all the ancient civilizations: Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Greek. Each of these civilizations contributed much to our modern understanding of astronomy.
The Scientific Revolution which took place in Europe(1543-1687) developed primarily based on the work of people that we would recognize today as astronomers (or physicists). Of course at the time, they did not necessarily call themselves astronomers, going by many other appellations: Nicolai Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, and Isaac Newton are among the most well-known. Our word astronomy was passed down from Greek to Latin, Anglo-French, to Middle English. The first known use of the word comes from a 13th century document.
We use the word astronomical when we are trying to describe something which is inconceivably enormous, something so great, so all-encompassing we have no other words for it For example, a political commentator might say, “We should all be alarmed, because the federal deficit is astronomically large.” And we would all know what he meant, even if we didn’t know the precise number to which he was referring. Scholars have found the word astronomical used as early as 1556.
Oxford Dictionary Online
World Book Encyclopedia
Encyclopædia Britannica Concise
Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus
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