Glossarbegriffe: Himmelskugel

Also known as Himmelssphäre

Description: Die Himmelskugel ist eine gedachte Hohlkugel mit unendlich großem Radius, deren Mittelpunkt die Erde, der Mittelpunkt der Sonne oder jeder andere beliebige Ort sein kann. Himmelsobjekte scheinen an der Innenseite der Himmelskugel befestigt zu sein, und die Planeten, die Sonne und der Mond scheinen langsam auf der Innenseite entlang zu wandern. Für Positionsangaben auf der Himmelskugel werden sphärische Koordinatensysteme (Kugelkoordinaten) verwendet.

Die Himmelskugel scheint sich aufgrund der Erdrotation einmal pro Tag zu drehen.

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Term and definition status: The original definition of this term in English have been approved by a research astronomer and a teacher
The translation of this term and its definition is still awaiting approval

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".

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Hundreds of small arcs made by stars form circles centred on a point near the horizon. A tree stands in the foreground.

Star Trail in the Southern Hemisphere with Bortle 4 Scale Light Pollution

Bildunterschriften: This breathtaking photo, captured under the clear night sky of Linggamekar Village, Cilimus, Kuningan, West Java, Indonesia on 25 June 2020, displays star trails sweeping across the southern hemisphere’s heavens. The star trails are due to Earth’s rotation causing the apparent motion of stars, creating these mesmerising arcs of light when followed over extended periods. Here, the point the stars rotate around (the South Celestial Pole) is close to the horizon, as the image was taken close to the equator. The photographer used the star trail feature on a smartphone, which captured a series of images over an extended period and stacked them together. The striking tree in the foreground adds depth to the image, contrasting the celestial motion above with its Earthly stillness, while also masking some of the surrounding light pollution. Different parts of the world offer diverse and stunning perspectives on the night sky, emphasising the importance of preserving dark skies everywhere.
Bildnachweis: Slamat Riyadi/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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The Big Dipper drifts lower towards the horizon on the left, on the right a comet rises in the sky.

Big Dipper and Comet Neowise C2020 F3

Bildunterschriften: This time-lapse documents the trajectory of the iconic Big Dipper across three frames taken in July 2020. Captured from three locations in Italy, Tre Cime di Lavaredo Auronzo di Cadore, Monte Rite, Cibiana di Cadore, and Casera Razzo, Vigo di Cadore, this visual odyssey showcases the captivating journey of the Big Dipper with the addition of trails of stars painting a celestial canvas. It not only traces the path of this renowned asterism but also features the rare appearance of comet Neowise C/2020 F3, an extraordinary event that graced our skies during July 2020.
Bildnachweis: Giorgia Hofer/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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The Milky Way appears as a diagonal stripe bottom left to top right. It becomes more horizontal as the video progresses.

Southern Sky Over La Silla

Bildunterschriften: This video shows the Milky Way’s sprawling brilliance across the celestial expanse. Among the stars’ grand theatre, the Southern Cross constellation claims its place in the scene, distinguished by its distinctive cross shape as seen in the top of this video and slightly to the right just over the Milky Way, slowly disappearing as the video progresses. This celestial marker, a prominent feature in the southern hemisphere, holds cultural and navigational significance, having served as a navigational guidepost for centuries. Accompanying the Milky Way’s grandeur are the two Magellanic clouds, celestial companions seen dancing in the distant sky. The Carina Nebula adds its ethereal glow to the cosmic panorama, painting a radiant hue against the darkness. In the midst of this celestial ballet, a gentle green hue envelops the atmosphere, a phenomenon known as airglow, adding a touch of subtle luminescence to the night sky. The terrestrial also makes an appearance, with planes flying overhead and vehicles driving between observatory buildings. This time-lapse, taken from the La Silla Observatory in Chile, is a window to the captivating dance of stars, offering a glimpse into the awe-inspiring beauty of our galaxy and the celestial landmarks that grace the southern sky.
Bildnachweis: José Rodrigues/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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The Southern Cross points out the South Celestial Pole, around which the sky appears to rotate

Beautiful Night in the Atacama Desert

Bildunterschriften: Taken from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, in June 2023, this time-lapse reveals the celestial ballet that unfolds as the Southern Cross takes its majestic journey across the sky, pointing the way to the South Celestial Pole around which the sky rotates, until it gracefully sets. The star-studded canvas showcases the grandeur of the Milky Way, adorned by the rotating Large and Small Magellanic Clouds swirling around the Southern Celestial Pole. The prominent constellations of Crux, Centaurus, Scorpius, and the former Argo Navis (Carina, Puppis, Vela) are also visible. The spectacle begins just after nightfall, capturing the radiant descent of Canopus, a beacon about to dip below the horizon. Throughout the sequence, there is a subtle presence of passing aeroplanes, fleeting headlights of cars, drifting clouds, and the ethereal airglow. At a stunning moment, a vivid meteor streaked across the sky, a breathtaking fireball briefly igniting the right lower corner around the 41st second mark. As the sequence progresses, the rising moon elegantly illuminates the landscape, casting its glow upon an ancient tree trunk resting on the dry, dusty grounds of the Salar de Atacama. This captivating journey through the night skies concludes before the break of dawn, offering a glimpse into the celestial marvels that are woven into the nocturnal tapestry of San Pedro de Atacama.
Bildnachweis: Uwe Reichert/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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The dish of a radio telescope rotates as the Big Dipper moves in the sky behind.

The Big Dipper with the Sardinia Radio Telescope SRT

Bildunterschriften: This time-lapse captures the movement of the stars alongside the majestic 64-metre Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) from the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), with special attention to the renowned Big Dipper against the backdrop of the celestial sphere. The camera pans as the famous asterism sinks in the sky while planes fly past and the radio telescope rotates. The harmonious interplay between the stellar pathways and the colossal dish of the radio telescope creates a mesmerising visual ode to the cosmic ballet taken in September 2019.
Bildnachweis: Antonio Finazzi/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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Small arcs of stars streak across the sky forming a circular pattern. Two dashed straight lines appear on the right.

Star Trails

Bildunterschriften: Taken in the darkness of Panotiya, Amartiya village, India, this image from October 2022 showcases beautiful star trails painting the night sky. With only a smartphone and a tripod, the photographer captured these trails — visual evidence of our planet's rotation, as each streak represents the apparent movement of the stars as the Earth spins, creating a captivating cosmic choreography of light. The distinct colours of the stars — some gleaming blue, others whitish — hint at their varying temperatures and compositions. Additionally, a subtle streak of an aeroplane momentarily intersects the timeless dance of the stars, juxtaposing the serene heavens with the bustling activity of life below.
Bildnachweis: Govind Gurjar/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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The Big Dipper sinks in the sky with the handle sweeping out a larger circle than the bowl of the asterism.

Big Dipper Over the Mono Lake

Bildunterschriften: The Big Dipper asterism gracefully moves above the otherworldly tufa formations of Mono Lake, California. The time-lapse captures the Big Dipper’s movement across the northern horizon until its inferior conjunction. At Mono Lake’s latitude (+38°), the stars of the Big Dipper remain circumpolar, except for Alkaid. The North Star sits 38° above the horizon, just outside the field of view in the top right. The lunar illumination bathes the landscape in a soft glow, gradually fading as the Moon sets, cloaking the scene in darkness.
Bildnachweis: Fabrizio Melandri/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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Timelapses of rotating skies behind trees, telescopes, mountains and observatories

The Rotating Planet

Bildunterschriften: A cosmic journey unfolds across continents in this time-lapse video which captures both iconic constellations from diverse corners of the world. Starting in China, the Big Dipper graces the night sky, a steadfast guide embedded in cultural narratives. Its luminance marks the beginning of this celestial odyssey. The two pointer stars on the end of the Big Dipper point to the North Star (Polaris) which appears to remain stationary as the sky rotates. From Nepal’s lofty peaks, the Big Dipper’s familiarity persists, a reliable fixture in the shifting panorama of the rotating planet. Moving to Chile, the Southern Cross adorns the firmament, emblematic of the southern skies. Frames from Chile showcase this constellation accompanied by the Milky Way Galaxy. In Namibia, a telescope from the H.E.S.S. Observatory appears in the video. Later, nestled beneath sheltering trees, the Big Dipper persists in its celestial prominence, appearing against a canvas of stars. Using varied techniques — fisheye lenses, static cameras, and Earth's movement-tracking — each frame unveils the Cross’s grandeur against diverse landscapes. These sequences — marked by star trails and Earth’s rotation—highlight the enduring presence of the Big Dipper and Southern Cross, bridging cultures and celestial beauty across hemispheres.
Bildnachweis: Jianfeng Dai/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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Ein traditionelles chinesisches Gebäude. Oben bilden die Streifen der Sterne ein kreisförmiges Muster um den Polarstern.

Strichspuren der Verbotenen Stadt

Bildunterschriften: Unter dem himmlischen Ballett der Strichspuren von Sternen, die sich um den Nachthimmel winden, liegt in diesem Bild, das im März 2022 aufgenommen wurde, die Verbotene Stadt in Peking als Zeugnis alter himmlischer Verbindungen. Der Palast wurde nach kosmischen Gesichtspunkten entworfen und orientiert sich an der Ausrichtung des Polarsterns, der auch Polaris genannt wird: einem himmlischen Anker, der Seefahrern seit langem den Weg weist und die Stabilität des Himmel symbolisiert. Man glaubte, dass der Kaiser das irdische Abbild dieses Polarsterns verkörperte und die Brücke zwischen Himmel und Erde schlug. In dieser harmonischen einstündigen Belichtung, die mit einem Smartphone entstanden ist, zeichnen die Spuren der Sterne ihre nächtliche Reise über das Firmament um den Polarstern nach und geben die Präzision sowohl der architektonischen Gestaltung als auch der himmlischen Pfade wider.
Bildnachweis: Stephanie Ziyi Ye/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)

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