SOLar Systems?

I always thought any group of planets orbiting a star was called a solar system. Then it occurred to me that the name of the star around which the earth orbits is “Sol”.

Are other groups of planets which orbit different stars “solar systems” or is there a more astronomically correct term?

“Solar system” is pretty much a generic term, just as “earth” is a pretty generic term for soil/ground.

Call them “star systems” if you prefer. And talk like Captain Kirk when you do.

Right. And said star is a sun.

Right, and Sol is also the Sun.

Just as using the word “sun” does not necessarily mean one is referring specifically to the Sun, using the world “solar” does not necessarily mean one is referring specifically to Sol.

Thanks Tuck. But I am familiar with the common usage, that is why I asked if there is a more “astronomically correct term”. If “solar system” is an accurate scientific description of another group of planets orbiting another star please point me to the appropriate source material. This is GD not IMHO. I would accept that answer from you if I was asking about old cars. I am not trying to be pissy. But I can’t agree with your reasoning. If we were on Mars and I asked you to bring me some “earth” you better not bring me some dust from right outside the spaceship.

Jeebus Gary, that was the whole point of my question. Was that unclear?

Bryan- Are you saying “Star System” is more accurate? Or are you you just being your usual witty self?

Can’t I be both, like the late Earl Warren?
A google for “star system” finds the phrase used on any number of scholarly-looking sites (once you skim out the ones about Hollywood), so if someone tries to tell me it’s not an “official” term, I’d ask them for a cite as well as an official definition of “official” and then I’d say “screw them” and use it anyway. It’s useful enough as a label - a star system is a stable astronomical configuration with one or more stars and objects orbiting it/them. A specific system can be identified by its star(s), so there’s the Polaris system, the Rigel system, the
Vega system (of course, in the unlikely event these stars have no other bodies under their influence, “system” is moot) and the very familiar system centered on the star called Sol; the Solar system.

But if someone wants to use small-s “solar system” generically, let 'em. I just think “star system” sounds cooler.

Thanks Bryan, and I agree with you, and I really do enjoy your wit, but gosh darn it, I have done a google search to. This is GQ I am not looking for an opinion, I am looking for an answer. Are you saying that your post is factual? And that you are in a position to know? Cause if so I will accept it (sort of) or are you giving me your opinion?

My question is basically will students in an advanced astronomy class snicker at me if I refer to another group of planets as a solar system?

You will not be snickered at if you use a term that is also commonly used in peer reviewed scholarly publications:

Terms such as solar systems, extra-solar systems, and planetary system seem to be actively used. Terms such as star system and stellar system seem to generally refer to systems with more than one star, but this is not always so.

Well, define “factual”. This isn’t a math problem with a tidy unambiguous answer; it’s about arbitrary labeling and which source has sufficiently acceptable authority. If wikipedia has any weight, I’ll point that the “Solar System” page specifically describes Sol-Mercury-Venus-Earth… etc. and that it has a link to the “Star system” page, with more generic information. If not wikipedia, various pages casually use “star system” generically, reserving “Solar system” for our system specifically.

I don’t think anyone in an astronomy class will snicker at a generic use of “solar system”, but I’ll bet at least one of them will nitpick (or at least consider nitpicking) that “solar” should be specific to Sol. I would.

They might, if they’re prone to snickering…
However, you can always tell them that NASA also refer to those systems as “Solar systems”:

Another (and maybe more general) term is Planetary Systems.

In light of Puzzler’s cite, I drop the “reserving” in my earlier post. I was going by the first five pages of a google search, all of which appeared to use “Solar system” (capitalized) just for ours.

And if your reaction to the ground shaking on Mars is to shout, “Marsquake!” you can expect people to club you like a harp seal. Words and conventions quite often hang on for a very long time in languages, even in scientific fields. Because of a mistake by Ben Franklin, our terminology incorrectly describes how electrical current flows. The proper term for an enlisted person in the Navy is still sailor, even though sails stopped being used around a century ago. The word “vitamin” traces it’s origins to an incorrect assumption about the chemical makeup of vitamins. We refer to “oceans” as if they were seperate bodies of water, even though (we now know) that they’re all connected.

Someone on Mars won’t say, “Bring me some mars.” Why? Because it’ll be an ingrained habit with them to use “earth” as a synonym for soil, and they, unlike readers of a science fiction story, won’t need a reminder that they’re no longer on Earth. The evidence for it will be all around them. Someone from Earth on a planet orbiting the star Rigel won’t say, “Rigel system” they’ll say, “solar system” because they’ve always said “solar system” to refer to the system they’re in. They’ll use “Rigel system” to explain to someone outside of that system where they are,

Does the name “Sol” have any formal legitimacy? I know science fiction writers (and, apparently, the Romans) have used that name, but does, say, the International Astronomical Union recognise it? I’ve never heard an astronomer refer to it as anything other than “the sun”.

Well, it’s the Latin name and often used in languages where it doesn’t mean “the sun” to indicate “our sun and not any other.”

When come back, bring English Academies of the Language. You don’t have them? Then it’s whatever usage does…

IANA astronimer, but what Nava said.

Wiki has this to say:

A search for Sol on NASA’s site results in spanish and mars-related pages, so I beleive wiki here.

Addendum: found this interesting link (from Cornell), that addresses both the original OP and the follow-up Sol issues:

indicate snipped parts.

When I see a reference to “extra-Solar planets”, I know it means planets orbiting other stars; but I also see “other solar systems”. Maybe the developing convention is to use an upper-case “Solar” to refer specifically to our Sun, and a lower-case “solar” as a generic term. If you’re using it verbally, I guess you have to make sure the meaning is clear from context.