Scientists Say: Solar

This is the word we use for anything relating to the sun

an image showing a solar flare on the sun

“Solar” is a word applied to something relating to the sun. The bright spot you see here on the surface of the sun is a solar flare — a huge burst of energy.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Solar (adjective, “SOL-er”)

This is a word that describes anything about or coming from the sun — Earth’s own personal star. The solar system is the group of planets, including Earth, that orbit the sun. The energy that comes from the sun and fuels all life on Earth — and provides some of our electricity, too — is solar energy. The 365 days it takes for the Earth to go around the sun is a solar year. And when the moon gets between the sun and the Earth, blocking the sun’s light and casting a huge shadow, we call it a solar eclipse.

Why do we say “solar” for sun-stuff instead of something like, er, “sun-er”? Because the word solar comes from the Latin word for sun: sol.

In a sentence

Too much smoggy air pollution can decrease the amount of energy that we get from solar panels.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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