How the planets got their names

How the planets got their names

Have you wondered how the planet got their names? We talked already about how the stars got their names, but now it’s time to discover the planets.

The names of planets, as well as their natural satellites, or moons are a topic governed by an institution known as the IAU or the International Astronomical Union. This organisation was established in 1919 and has since been recognised globally as the overall authority for assigning names to celestial objects, as well as the names of any significant surface features on them. While many of the planets had other names before the Romans bestowed them with their divine namesakes — it’s these names that are recognised by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Until recently our Solar System was thought to have nine (9) planets; however, Pluto has been downgraded to a “dwarf planet,” leaving us with eight (8) planets and 3 “dwarf planets,” Pluto, Eris, and Makemake. Of the eight (8) planets we have left 7 of them were named after figures in Greek and Roman mythology, Earth is the only holdout, its name being Germanic in origin.


The Romans so called it after the fleet-footed messenger of the gods “god of commerce.” It is believed that the Romans came up with this name because the planet moves so quickly around the Sun. Some said that the ancient Romans themselves believed the planet actually to be the chariot by which the messenger Mercury travelled.


The Romans also named this planet after the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. You will agree that this planet is perfectly named since it has a beautiful display with only the Sun and Moon being brighter celestial objects in the night sky visible from Earth.


Being the only holdout, its name is Germanic in origin; this is the only planet with an English name.


Mars was named after the Roman god of war; the planet is believed to have gotten its name due to its red colour. It has been speculated that ancient Romans revered this planet as the home of their god of the same name.


It was the King of all Gods in Roman mythology, so it comes as no surprise that the biggest planet in our Solar System would share the name of such a giant.


The Greeks originally called this planet Kronos after their god of agriculture, the Romans picked up on this and began calling the planet Saturn after their god of agriculture, Saturn.


It was named after the Roman god of the sea, possibly because of its beautiful blue colour.


This is the only one of the planets whose name originated in and stayed with Greek mythology, so named after the Deity of the Heavens, or the earliest supreme god.

However, the Roman names for the planets are standard in science; meanwhile, some other languages also have different names for planets. However, the IAU standards are what is used in scientific writing.

Maybe we have only eight planets in the Solar System but we have millions of stars which are still nameless, so you have an incredible opportunity to name a star in the sky and offer a gift which will shine for eternity.

Choose our name a star gifts

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