Sciency Words: Syzygy

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Science fiction uses scientific language as a form of artistic expression.  With that in mind, today’s post is part of a series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words.  Every Friday, I’ll bring you a new and interesting scientific word to help us all expand our scientific vocabulary.  Today’s word is:

SYZYGY

Syzygy: (noun) The word that proves that yes, “y” really is a sometimes vowel.  Whenever three celestial bodies, like the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth, form a straight line, they are in a state of syzygy.  This occurs whenever we have a solar or lunar eclipse, but it can happen in other circumstances as well.  For example, if Venus, Mars, and Jupiter lined up perfectly, that would also be considered syzygy.

The word syzygy has a nice, exotic sound to it, which is appropriate for such a rare astronomical event.  It’s unfortunate you don’t hear the word used more often whenever it actually occurs.  In fact, the word is so obscure that I have never found a way to use it effectively.  It’s almost impossible to make its meaning clear without explicitly giving the definition, which usually means it’s easier to just not use the word at all.

So I challenge you to find a way to fit this word into a story or a casual conversation.  Bonus points to anyone who does it without having to explain what it means.

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Did you already know this word?  If so, please share another sciency word in the comments below.  That way, we can all keep expanding our sciency vocabularies together!

4 Responses to Sciency Words: Syzygy

  1. dtkrippene says:

    I try to avoid words that might make the reader stop and go: “WTF”. I learned a new word today, but not sure I’d be brave enough to plug it in. Fun post, James.

    Like

  2. […] happened to be in perfect alignment with Saturn and the Sun (the technical term for that is syzygy, by the way!).  This allowed Cassini to take an amazing snapshot of a Saturnian eclipse.  If you […]

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  3. […] perhaps to use them as proper nouns.  I continue to hunt for an appropriate way to use the word syzygy in a sentence.  Maybe the solution is to use it as the name for some strange, ethereal space […]

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