It's well known that Astronomers use the term "metal" to describe any element heavier than Helium but could anyone tell me why? What is the history of this particularly strange bit of language?

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    $\begingroup$ See physics.stackexchange.com/questions/221873/… $\endgroup$
    – usernumber
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ Also, it is not that uncommon for words to be used in different ways by different fields of study. $\endgroup$
    – usernumber
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ I think it may also be due to the fact that the first spectral lines associated with chemical elements were those of sodium and some of the other alkali metals. I haven't found a source that describes this in detail, though. $\endgroup$
    – antlersoft
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ Your characterisation of my answer on Physics SE is quite incorrect. Quote marks should be reserved for things that were actually said, rather than things you think were said. The cast-iron duplicate on Astronomy SE has more detail. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ I apologies if I caused offense Rob, I was merely attempting to paraphrase all of the responses on that question (apparently rather poorly so I'll delete my originally comment now). Thanks for pointing me to the answer here astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/2513/… (and thanks to @antlersoft for their contribution) $\endgroup$
    – nick-scott
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 21:11


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