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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Eclipse \E*clipse"\ ([-e]*kl[i^]ps"), n. [F. ['e]clipse, L. eclipsis, fr. Gr. 'e`kleipsis, prop., a forsaking, failing, fr. 'eklei`pein to leave out, forsake; 'ek out + lei`pein to leave. See Ex-, and Loan.]

  1. (Astron.) An interception or obscuration of the light of the sun, moon, or other luminous body, by the intervention of some other body, either between it and the eye, or between the luminous body and that illuminated by it. A lunar eclipse is caused by the moon passing through the earth's shadow; a solar eclipse, by the moon coming between the sun and the observer. A satellite is eclipsed by entering the shadow of its primary. The obscuration of a planet or star by the moon or a planet, though of the nature of an eclipse, is called an occultation. The eclipse of a small portion of the sun by Mercury or Venus is called a transit of the planet.

    Note: In ancient times, eclipses were, and among unenlightened people they still are, superstitiously regarded as forerunners of evil fortune, a sentiment of which occasional use is made in literature.

    That fatal and perfidious bark, Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark.

  2. The loss, usually temporary or partial, of light, brilliancy, luster, honor, consciousness, etc.; obscuration; gloom; darkness.

    All the posterity of our fist parents suffered a perpetual eclipse of spiritual life.
    --Sir W. Raleigh.

    As in the soft and sweet eclipse, When soul meets soul on lovers' lips.

    Annular eclipse. (Astron.) See under Annular.

    Cycle of eclipses. See under Cycle.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., "disguise or concealment of identity," from Latin occultationem (nominative occultatio), noun of action from past participle stem of occultare "to hide, conceal," frequentative of occulere (see occult).


n. 1 (context astronomy English) An astronomical event that occurs when one celestial object is hidden by another celestial object that passes between it and the observer when the nearer object appears larger and completely hides the more distant object 2 The state of being occult. 3 (context Shia Islam English) Of the state of an imam that has been hidden by Allah.


n. one celestial body obscures another [syn: eclipse]


An occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer. The word is used in astronomy (see below). It can also refer to any situation wherein an object in the foreground blocks from view (occults) an object in the background. In this general sense, occultation applies to the visual scene observed from low-flying aircraft (or computer-generated imagery) wherein foreground objects obscure distant objects dynamically, as the scene changes over time.

Usage examples of "occultation".

There have also been some indications of extrasolar planets from observations of the occultation of starlight when the planet passes in front of the star along our line of sight, from gravitational microlensing that changes the intensity of a background star, and from timing of the pulses from neutron stars with planets in orbit.

Twenty-odd years of endless Lunar data, done by atomic (cesium) clock, electrically-automatically timed occultations of stars, backed by both triangulation and radar ranging, counterchecked by similar work done on the inner planets by other astronomers at other observatories—Certainly he could be wrong .

The ship had also spotted a concentrated cluster of occultation events around a halo star more than ten thousand light-years beyond the accretion disc of the giant black hole.

Since the patterns of winking on and off were the same before and after occultation, this finding (and much subsequent work) has led to the discovery of nine very thin, very dark circumplanetary rings, giving Uranus the appearance of a bull's-eye in the sky.

Martin summoned and inspected occultations, spectrum variability, brightness fluctuations.

The ship spoke of the possibility that humanity had developed wormhole technology—it had located a number of double occultations within the Home Galaxy that were typical of the theoretical effect of a wormhole exit passing between a star and an observer.