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Definition: sidereal day

Slightly less than the 24 hours of a solar day (23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.1 seconds). Used in astronomy, sidereal means "when a star crosses the meridian" (the meridian is an imaginary circle around the earth). For example, at noon, the sun and stars are overhead, but 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds later, the earth is back in relation to the stars, but not the sun, which takes approximately four minutes longer.