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.
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?
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 nasa.gov 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.
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”.
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.