How did Jupiter get its name?

Where do the names of the planets come from, such as Uranus, Neptune etc.?


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Where do the names of the planets come from, such as Uranus, Neptune etc.?

Neptune, Saturn, Mars, Venus or Pluto - the planets have exotic-sounding names for us. Esra from Koblenz would like to know: How did the planets get their names? Why are they called e.g. Uranus, Neptune etc.?

The planets have names from the Roman world of gods. Some of them have been named by their discoverers. One has always chosen names of gods that have something to do with the appearance, the position to the sun and the characteristics of the planet.

Here is an example: In Roman mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld. The planet probably got its name because it is so far from the sun that it never gets into light and is constantly in darkness. In addition, PL are the initials of Percival Lowell, who founded the Lowell Observatory in Arizona in 1894. His efforts were focused on the exploration of Mars. Since 2006, however, Pluto is no longer one of the planets, but is considered a dwarf planet.

At first there were many different suggestions when the planet was discovered: Atlas, Zymal, Artemis, Perseus, Vulcan, Tantalus, Idana, Chronos. The New York Times suggested Minerva, reporters Osiris, Bacchus, Apollo, Erebus. Lowell's widow suggested Zeus, but changed that opinion in favor of Constance.

Many people suggested that the planet be called Lowell. The staff at the Flagstaff Observatory, where Pluto was discovered, suggested Chronos, Minerva, and Pluto. A few months later the planet was officially named Pluto. Allegedly, the name Pluto originally came from Venetia Burney, an eleven-year-old English student from Oxford. She is said to have suggested Pluto.

Uranus, who was discovered by Sir Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel on March 13th, 1781 with a telescope he developed himself, dances out of line when it was named. Of the planets that were not known in ancient times, Uranus was the first to be discovered. Herschel himself named the planet in honor of the English King George III. Georgium Sidus (George's Star). In France, however, astronomers called it Herschel until another astronomer suggested that it be named after the Greek god Uranos.

However, the name did not catch on until around 1850. This makes it the only planet that was not named after a Roman god. Uranus had been observed and cataloged before, first by John Flamsteed in 1690, but not recognized as a planet. The deviation of the observed positions of Uranus from the calculated ones led to the targeted search for Neptune. The eighth planet in our solar system is named after the Roman god of the sea.

Image: NASA / Harman Smith & Laura Generosa / PD

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