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A celestial body of the solar system, revolving around the sun in a nearly circular orbit, or a similar body revolving around a star. See table XII. See also astronomical constant, tables II and III, noting that some values differ in the three tables. </dd>
The larger of such bodies are sometimes called principal planets to distinguish them from asteroids, planetoids, or minor planets, which are comparatively very small. The larger planets are accompanied by satellites, such as the moon. An inferior planet has an orbit smaller than that of the earth. The four planets nearest the sun are called inner planets; the others, outer planets. The four largest planets are called major planets. The four planets commonly used for celestial observations are called navigational planets. The word planet is of Greek origin, meaning, literally, wanderer, applied because the planets appear to move relative to the stars. [[/a>|/a> ]]


This article is based on NASA's Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use