View Single Post
Unread 11-20-2017, 01:51 AM
waybread's Avatar
waybread waybread is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: A class M planet near you
Posts: 14,453
Re: How the planets got their names

The naked-eye planets and luminaries were named by the ancient Mesopotamians, who believed that they were gods. When astrology diffused to ancient Greece, they matched up the Mesopotamian gods with their own gods. Which wasn't hard, because the Greeks had previously adopted a lot of the Babylonians' mythology. The Babylonian planetary god Nergal, for example, was the god of warfare and drought. He morphed into the Greek god Ares, and the Roman Mars. Inanna became Ishtar and the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus.

By the time Uranus was discovered in 1781, there already was a community of European astronomers. William Herschel wanted to name it Georgium Sidus "George's planet" after George III, but astronomers from other countries objected.

The rationale went that in Hellenistic mythology, Uranus was the father of Saturn who was the father of Jupiter, who was the father of Mars and Venus. This order preserves the planets' distance from the sun.

Neptune and Pluto were also named by agreement among European astronomers. Today the International Astronomical Union is responsible for approving names of newly discovered heavenly bodies.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. Jack Layton, "Letter to Canadians"

I thought we went along paths--but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.
C.S. Lewis, Perelandra.

Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. Message on a refrigerator magnet.
Reply With Quote