imaginary point directly above a particular location, on the imaginary celestial sphere

In astronomy, the zenith is a point "above" a particular location, in the sky. "Above" means in the opposite direction of gravity at that location. The zenith is the opposite of the nadir. The nadir is in the direction the direction that gravity pulls. The zenith is not a real point, it is used as a reference for the location of other things in the sky.

Diagram showing the relationship between the zenith, the nadir, and different types of horizon. Note that the zenith is opposite the nadir.

Relevance and useEdit

Shadows of trees when the sun is directly overhead (at the zenith).

For scientists, the zenith is the direction of reference for measuring the zenith angle. The zenith angle is the angle between a place in the sky (usually a star) and the local zenith.

Related pagesEdit


  • Glickman, Todd S. (2000). Glossary of meteorology. American Meteorological Society. ISBN 978-1-878220-34-9.
  • McIntosh, D. H. (1972). Meteorological Glossary (5th ed.). ISBN 978-0-8206-0228-8.
  • Picoche, Jacqueline (2002). Dictionnaire étymologique du français. Paris: Le Robert. ISBN 978-2-85036-458-7.