great circle


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great circle
a sphere with three great circles shown

great circle

n.
1. A circle described by the intersection of the surface of a sphere with a plane passing through the center of the sphere.
2. A segment of such a circle representing the shortest distance between two terrestrial points.

great circle

n
(Mathematics) a circular section of a sphere that has a radius equal to that of the sphere. Compare small circle

great′ cir′cle


n.
1. a circle on a sphere such that the plane containing the circle passes through the center of the sphere.
2. a circle of which a segment represents the shortest distance between two points on the surface of the earth.
[1585–95]

great circle

(grāt)
A circle on the surface of a sphere whose plane passes through the center of the sphere. The Earth's equator is a great circle on the sphere of the globe.

great circle

- Any circle on the surface of a sphere that lies on a plane through its center, or a circle that divides into two equal parts—as the Equator.
See also related terms for sphere.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.great circle - a circular line on the surface of a sphere formed by intersecting it with a plane passing through the centergreat circle - a circular line on the surface of a sphere formed by intersecting it with a plane passing through the center
celestial equator, equinoctial, equinoctial circle, equinoctial line - the great circle on the celestial sphere midway between the celestial poles
ecliptic - the great circle representing the apparent annual path of the sun; the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun; makes an angle of about 23 degrees with the equator; "all of the planets rotate the sun in approximately the same ecliptic"
equator - an imaginary line around the Earth forming the great circle that is equidistant from the north and south poles; "the equator is the boundary between the northern and southern hemispheres"
celestial horizon, horizon - the great circle on the celestial sphere whose plane passes through the sensible horizon and the center of the Earth
hour circle - a great circle on the celestial sphere that passes through both celestial poles
line - a spatial location defined by a real or imaginary unidimensional extent
line of longitude, meridian - an imaginary great circle on the surface of the earth passing through the north and south poles at right angles to the equator; "all points on the same meridian have the same longitude"
vertical circle - a great circle on the celestial sphere passing through the zenith and perpendicular to the horizon
References in classic literature ?
At every blow he traced around him a great circle of severed limbs.
Beyond the pond, on the slope that climbed to the cornfield, there was, faintly marked in the grass, a great circle where the Indians used to ride.
Instantly the scene changed as by magic; the foremost vessel swung broadside toward us, and bringing her guns into play returned our fire, at the same time moving parallel to our front for a short distance and then turning back with the evident intention of completing a great circle which would bring her up to position once more opposite our firing line; the other vessels followed in her wake, each one opening upon us as she swung into position.
And he went with them and made them form a great circle, open at one end where he stationed himself, and began to wish.
Then, swinging his axe in a great circle to right and left before him, he advanced upon the gate, and the others followed him without hesitation.
Men came by hundreds, carrying short sticks only--for to be seen armed was death--and seated themselves in the great circle before the gates of the royal house.
So they all joined hands and made a great circle round the high grass.
Adopting the tactics of the desert fighters from which he had sprung, Achmet Zek led his followers at a gallop in a long, thin line, describing a great circle which drew closer and closer in toward the defenders.
At length as darkness settled upon the jungle the apes commenced to bestir themselves, and soon they formed a great circle about the earthen drum.
The Nautilus was piercing the water with its sharp spur, after having accomplished nearly ten thousand leagues in three months and a half, a distance greater than the great circle of the earth.
When the carriages were really heard, when the guests began really to assemble, her own gaiety of heart was much subdued: the sight of so many strangers threw her back into herself; and besides the gravity and formality of the first great circle, which the manners of neither Sir Thomas nor Lady Bertram were of a kind to do away, she found herself occasionally called on to endure something worse.
We may stop here, and die of asphyxiation when our atmosphere tanks are empty," replied Perry, "or we may continue on with the slight hope that we may later sufficiently deflect the prospector from the vertical to carry us along the arc of a great circle which must eventually return us to the surface.