MERCURY Named Mercurius by the Romans because it appears to move so swiftly.
VENUS Roman name for the goddess of love. This planet was considered to be the brightest and most beautiful planet or star in the heavens. Other civilizations have named it for their god(ess) of love/war.
MOON Every civilization has had a name for the satellite of Earth that is known, in English, as the Moon. The name is of Anglo-Saxon derivation.
MARS Named by the Romans for their god of war because of its red--bloodlike--color. Other civilizations also named this planet from this attribute; for example, the Egyptians named it "Her Desher," meaning "the red one." Phobos Inner satellite of Mars; named in 1877 by the discoverer, Asaph Hall, for one of the horses that drew Mars' chariot; also called an "attendant" or "son" of Mars, according to chapter 15, line 119 of Homer's "Iliad." This Greek word means "fear." Deimos Outer Martian satellite, also named by Asaph Hall for one of Mars' horses/sons/companions; the word means "fear" or "terror" in Greek.
JUPITER The largest and most massive of the planets was named Zeus by the Greeks and Jupiter by the Romans; he was the most important deity in both pantheons. Metis First wife of Zeus. He swallowed her when she became pregnant; Athena was subsequently born from the forehead of Zeus. Discovered by Synnott in 1979/80. Adrastea A nymph of Crete to whose care Rhea entrusted the infant Zeus. Discovered by Jewitt et al. in 1979. Amalthea Discovered by E. E. Barnard in 1892, who eventually chose a name suggested by Flammarian for the satellite. Amalthea (a goat in some accounts, a princess of Crete in others) suckled Zeus (Jupiter) as a young child. Thebe A nymph abducted by Zeus; she is the namesake of the Greek city of Thebes. Discovered by Synnott in 1979/80. Io Galileo discovered Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, in 1610. Simon Marius' claim to discovery of the Jovian satellites shortly before Galileo was not accepted. Galileo suggested that the four be known as "Medicea Sidera" to honor his patron, but the name was not accepted by other astronomers. Instead, they chose names given the four satellites by Marius in 1613; the names were of four of Jupiter's illicit loves. (Galileo refused to accept Marius' names; instead he identified the moons by Roman numerals, a secondary designation system that has been adopted for all satellite systems to the present.) Io, the daughter of Inachus, was changed by Jupiter into a cow to protect her from Hera's jealous wrath, but Hera recognized Io and sent a gadfly to torment her. Io, maddened by the fly, wandered throughout the Mediterranean region. Europa Beautiful daughter of Agenor, king of Tyre, she was seduced by Jupiter, who had assumed the shape of a white bull. When Europa climbed on his back he swam with her to Crete, where she bore several children, including Minos. Ganymede Beautiful young boy who was carried to Olympus by Jupiter disguised as an eagle. Ganymede then became the cupbearer of the Olympian gods. Callisto Beautiful daughter of Lycaon, she was seduced by Jupiter, who changed her into a bear to protect her from Hera's jealousy. Leda Seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan, she was the mother of Pollux and Helen. Discovered by Kowal in 1974. Himalia Discovered by Perrine in 1904. Lysithia Discovered by Nicholson in 1938. Elara A paramour of Zeus; mother of the giant Tityus. Discovered by Perrine in 1904/5. Ananke Moira, daughter of Zeus and Themis, as the goddess of necessity. Discovered by Nicholson in 1951. Carme A nymph and attendant of Artemis; mother, by Zeus, of Britomartis. Discovered by Nicholson in 1938. Pasiphaë Wife of Minos; mother of the Minotaur. Discovered by Melotte in 1908. Sinope Daughter of the river god Asopus and Merope; she was abducted by Apollo. Discovered by Nicholson in 1914.
SATURN Roman name for the Greek Cronos, father of Zeus/Jupiter. Other civilizations have given other names to Saturn, which is the farthest planet from Earth that can be observed by the naked human eye. Most of its satellites were named for Titans who, according to Greek mythology, were brothers and sisters of Saturn. Pan Son of Hermes and Dryope; half human, half goat god of pastoralism. Atlas A Titan; he held the heavens on his shoulders. Discovered by R. Terrile in 1980. Prometheus Brother of Atlas and Epimetheus; he gave many gifts to humanity, including fire. Discovered by S. Collins and others in 1980. Pandora Made of clay by Hephaestus at the request of Zeus; she married Epimetheus and opened the box that loosed a host of plagues upon humanity. Discovered by S. Collins and others in 1980. Janus Discovered by Audouin Dollfus in 1966, this small satellite was later proven to have a twin, Epimetheus, sharing the same orbit but never actually meeting. It is named for the two-faced Roman god who could look forward and backward at the same time. Epimetheus Discovered by the Voyager team in 1981 and named by them for the Greek backward-looking god. Mimas Discovered by William Herschel in 1798 and named by his son, John in the early 19th century for a Titan felled by Hephaestus (or Ares) in the war between the Titans and Olympian gods. Enceladus Also discovered by William Herschel in 1798 and named by his son, John for the Titan Enceladus. Enceladus was crushed by Athene in the battle between the Olympian gods and the Titans; earth piled on top of him became the island of Sicily. Tethys Discovered in 1684 by Cassini, who wished to name it and the other three satellites that he discovered (Dione, Rhea, and Iapetus) for Louis XIV. However, the names used today for these satellites were applied in the early 19th century by John Herschel, who named them for Titans and Titanesses, brothers and sisters of Saturn. Tethys was the wife of Oceanus and mother of all rivers and Oceanids. Telesto One of 3000 Oceanides, water nymphs born to Oceanus and Tethys. Discovered by B. Smith and others, 1980. Calypso A daughter of Atlas and paramour of Odysseus. Discovered by B. Smith and others, 1980. Dione Discovered by Cassini in 1684. Dione was the sister of Cronos and mother (by Zeus) of Aphrodite. Helene Discovered by P. Laques and J. Lecacheux, 1980. Rhea Discovered by Cassini in 1672 and named for another of Cronos' sisters, Rhea was also his wife. Her youngest son was Zeus. Titan Discovered and named in 1665 by Huygens, who first called it "Luna Saturni." Hyperion Discovered by C. and G.P. Bond and by William Lassell on the same night in 1848; named by Lassell for one of the Titans. Iapetus Discovered by Cassini in 1671 and named by John Herschel for one of the Titans. Phoebe Discovered and named by William H. Pickering of Harvard University in 1898.
URANUS Uranus was discovered by William Herschel in 1781. Several astronomers, including Flamsteed and Le Monnier, had observed it earlier but had recorded it as a fixed star. Herschel tried unsuccessfully to name his discovery "Georgian Sidus" after George III; the planet was named by Johann Bode in 1781 for the father of Saturn. Cordelia Daughter of Lear in Shakespeare's "King Lear." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Ophelia Daughter of Polonius, fiance of Hamlet in Shakespeare's "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Bianca Daughter of Baptista, sister of Kate in Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Cressida Title character in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Desdemona Wife of Othello in Shakespeare's "Othello, the Moor of Venice." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Juliet Heroine of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Portia Wife of Brutus in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Rosalind Daughter of the banished duke in Shakespeare's "As You Like It." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Belinda Character in Pope's "Rape of the Lock." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Puck Mischievous spirit in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Discovered by the Voyager 2 Team in 1986. Miranda Discovered and named by G.P. Kuiper in 1948 for the heroine of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Ariel Discovered by William Lassell in 1851; named by John Herschel for the benevolent spirit in Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Umbriel Discovered by William Lassell in 1851, Umbriel was named by John Herschel for a malevolent spirit in Pope's "Rape of the Lock." Titania Discovered by William Herschel in 1787; named by his son John in early 19th century for the queen of the fairies in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Oberon Discovered by William Herschel in 1787; named by his son John in early 19th century for the king of the fairies in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Caliban Discovered by Gladman, Nicholson, Burns and Kavelaars in 1997; named for the grotesque, brutish slave in Shakespeare's "The Tempest." This name has provisional approval. Sycorax Discovered by Gladman, Nicholson, Burns and Kavelaars in 1997; named for Caliban's mother in Shakespeare's "The Tempest." This name has provisional approval.
NEPTUNE Neptune was actually "observed" as early as 1690 by John Flamsteed, who thought it was a fixed star. It was "predicted" by John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier who, independently, were able to account for the irregularities in the motion of Uranus by correctly predicting the orbital elements of a trans- Uranian body. Using the predicted parameters of these two men, Johann Galle observed the planet in 1846. Galle wanted to name the planet for Le Verrier, but that was not acceptable to the international astronomical community. Naiad The name of a group of Greek water nymphs who were guardians of lakes, fountains, springs and rivers. Thalassa Greek sea goddess; mother of Aphrodite in some legends; others say she bore the Telchines. Despina Daughter of Poseidon (Neptune) and Demeter. Galatea One of the Nereids, attendants of Poseidon. Larissa A lover of Poseidon. Proteus Greek sea god, son of Oceanus and Tethys. Triton Discovered in 1847 by William Lassell, Triton is named for the sea-god son of Poseidon (Neptune) and Amphitrite. The first suggestion of the name Triton has been attributed to the French astronomer Camille Flammarion. Nereid Discovered by G. P. Kuiper at the McDonald Observatory in 1949. The Nereids were the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris and were attendants of Neptune.
PLUTO Discovered in 1930 by American astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ during a systematic search for a trans-Neptune planet predicted by Percival Lowell and William H. Pickering. Named after Greek god of the under- world who was able to render himself invisible. Charon Discovered in 1978 by 2 American astronomers, James W. Christy and Robert S. Harrington. Named after the mythological boatman who ferried souls across the river Styx to Pluto for judgement.
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