1. the act of elongating or the state of being elongated.
  2. something that is elongated.
  3. Astronomy. the angular distance, measured from the earth, between a planet or the moon and the sun or between a satellite and the planet about which it revolves.


  1. the act of elongating or state of being elongated; lengthening
  2. something that is elongated
  3. astronomy the difference between the celestial longitude of the sun and that of a planet or the moon

late 14c., from Late Latin elongationem (nominative elongatio), noun of action from elongare “remove to a distance,” from Latin ex- “out” (see ex-) + longus “long” (see long (adj.)).

  1. The angular distance between two celestial bodies as seen from a third. Elongation is normally conceived as a measure of the angle formed between the Sun and a celestial body, such as a planet or the Moon, with Earth at the vertex. In terms of the celestial sphere, elongation is the distance between the Sun and the body as measured in degrees of celestial longitude. When the body lies on a direct line drawn from Earth to or through the Sun, its elongation is 0° and it is said to be in conjunction. It is said to be in quadrature when it lies at a right angle to a line between the Earth and Sun with an elongation of 90°, and it is in opposition when it lies on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun with an elongation of 180°. Superior planets (those that are farther from the Sun than Earth) have a full range of elongations between 0° and 180°. Inferior planets (those closer to the Sun than Earth) have limited elongations due to their smaller orbits; Venus has a greatest elongation of about 48°, while Mercury’s greatest elongation is about 28°. See more at conjunction opposition.
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