Astrophysics (Index)About

horizontal coordinate system

(az/el system, Alt/Az system, altazimuth system)
(celestial coordinate system based upon horizon and north)

The horizontal coordinate system (az/el system, alt/az system, altazimuth system) is a spherical coordinate system used for directions in the celestial sphere, fixed to the horizon and north. It is directly related to observation from Earth, but time-dependent: the rotation of Earth produces a constant minute-by-minute change in the whole sky, called the diurnal motion. Other coordinate systems avoid this time-dependence, e.g., for specifying locations of stars, but to relate an observation to one of them, the position must be converted between the other system and this one. This system is straight-forward for a telescope with an altazimuth mount, and modern research telescopes use computer control to handle the aiming and conversion.

Elements of the horizontal coordinate system:

Some terms based upon these, describing the position of astronomical objects in the sky:

(coordinate system,horizon,celestial sphere,Earth)
Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
celestial coordinate system