When I say location, it's intuitively implied that I refer to a place on the Earth's surface. What would be a good term for the position in the sky?

When I'm at this location I see the sun at/on/in that xxx.

It's not angle because there are two angles. And it's not angles because I'm looking for a term for such spot. It's not direction because I'm referring to a point in the spherical shell.

I hope for something technical, scientific and really hairy. I'm thinking in terms of azimuth not direction and elevation instead of slope. You get the style.

  • 1
    How about locus? However, position itself is a pretty good choice of word.
    – Yuri
    Oct 4, 2016 at 19:43
  • 1
    Astronomers refer to the apparent position of a celestial body (always, of course, relative to another one!) because there is, by definition, no fixed point of reference in the entire cosmos. Oct 4, 2016 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Yuri Post it as a reply, please. Oct 4, 2016 at 19:48
  • But if you already know azimuth and elevation, and you're hoping for "something technical, scientific, and really hairy", why not just use those? (Or right ascension and declination, if you prefer those.)
    – stangdon
    Oct 4, 2016 at 20:06
  • 3
    @Konrad Viltersten I suggest you post your question here. You might get more accurate responses.
    – Yuri
    Oct 4, 2016 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


It seems the word position itself is a good choice of word that can fit in your sentence.

When I'm at this location I see the sun in that position.

Solar position also might work for you although considering using sun in your sentence, it might be redundancy since it basically means the sun's position.

However you might want to look up locus that I found in one of the answers given here.

(I'm not an astronomer obviously and I post it as an English learner. I hope you find it useful.)


Because there is no physical "sky" in which to occupy a position, astronomers use the terms apparent place and apparent position to describe a "position in the sky." Note that the word apparent is very important in conveying the meaning of the term: it does not describe a true physical position (which cannot exist) but the position as it appears to the observer.

OED defines apparent as:

6. Appearing to the senses or mind, as distinct from (though not necessarily opposed to) what really is; seeming. Contrasted with real.

Thus, an astronomer would say:

When I'm at this location I see the sun in that apparent place/position.

The International Astronomical Center's glossary defines apparent place as:

Apparent place: the position on a celestial sphere, centered at the Earth, determined by removing from the directly observed position of a celestial body the effects that depend on the topocentric location of the observer: i.e., refraction, diurnal aberration (see aberration, diurnal) and geocentric (diurnal) parallax. Thus the position at which the object would actually be seen from the center of the Earth, displaced by planetary aberration (except the diurnal part - see aberration, planetary; aberration, diurnal) and referred to the true equator and equinox.

For a demonstration of the term "in the wild", see astronomy.stackexchange.com.


You may use the expression: astronomical position:

  • A point on the earth whose coordinates have been determined as a result of observation of celestial bodies. Also known as astronomical station.
  • A point on the earth defined in terms of astronomical latitude and longitude.

(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms)

  • OP is hoping for a term to use in reference to a position in the sky, which by definition cannot exist. Oct 4, 2016 at 20:10
  • @P.E.Dant - that's why, as explained in the answer, an astronomical position is a point that refers to coordinates on the earth. Please read!
    – user5267
    Oct 4, 2016 at 20:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .