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Unread 11-20-2017, 01:51 AM
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waybread waybread is offline
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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.
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