Our Solar System

By: B-Rizzle Tiffany =) Seth


  • Timocharis recorded the first observation of Mercury in 265 B.C.
  • Mercury is named for the “winged Roman god of travel” because it seems to move so rapidly.
  • It is also known to be of the Roman god of commerce and thievery because of its quick appearance.


  • Venus is the Roman name for the goddess of love.
  • Venus was considered to be the brightest and most beautiful planet or star throughout the heavens.


  • The name earth comes from the German “erda” which is the name for the Earth Goddess and mother.
  • Many say it is very difficult to pin-point the exact naming of Earth because its name has changed so drastically over the years.


  • Mars was named from the god of war because of its blood-like tint.
  • The Egyptians called Mars “Her Desher” which means “the red one”.
  • Mars’ moons are named “Phobos,” which comes from one of the horses that drew Mars’ chariot.
  • The other moon or satellite is named “Deimos” which is named after one of Mars’ companions.


  • The fifth planet is known by two names: “Jupiter” by the Romans and “Zeus” by the Greeks.
  • Jupiter, or Zeus, has many moons or satellites that are named after mythological characters that have a connection to Zeus.
  • It is also considered the supreme God of Romans, which would be Zeus.


  • Saturn is derived from the name of the Roman God of agriculture and vegitation.
  • The God launched agriculture by instructing his people how to farm the land.
  • Saturn is also the name for the God of time.
  • Saturn is the slowest of the five planets named after Gods in orbit around the sun, which is most likely why it was given the name of the God of time.
  • In mythology, Saturn was the father of Jupiter.
  • Saturday was also a derivative of Saturn.


  • Previously, Uranus was called “Georgium Sidus” (the star of George III) after King George III, the current king of Britain.
  • Many others called it Herschel after its founder.
  • Another suggested the name “Uranus” after the father of Saturn in Roman mythology to “fit in” with the rest of the planets.
  • It was finally agreed upon in the mid 1800s.
  • It was the first planet to be discovered by an astronomer.
  • All the other planets were visible in the sky without having to search for them.
  • In Greek Mythology, Uranus was the son or husband of Gaia (Earth), and father of Chronos (time) and the Titans


  • Neptune is the name for the Roman god of the sea.
  • This name was chosen mainly for the blue color of the planet.
  • It was also the counterpart of the Greek Poseidon


  • Pluto was the Roman goddess of darkness and the underworld.
  • Because it’s the furthest away from the sun, it makes sense to be named after darkness.
  • It’s title as a planet has now changed to a “dwarf planet” due to recent discoveries
  • Brother of Jupiter and Neptune
  • Son of Saturn and Rhea


  • The naming process for astronomical bodies use similar methods with the exception of stars.

  • Here are the processes for Asteroids (Minor Planets), Comets, and Stars:


  • When an asteroid has been observed well enough to determine its precise orbit and will not be lost it is given a number.
  • Numbers are given based on order of discovery with Ceres (1)being the first
  • The first designation they receive is the date it is discovered.
  • This is followed by a letter from the first twelve of the alphabet to tell what month it was found in followed by another letter, starting with A, telling the order it was found in that month.
  • 1982 FA (F=June; A= First one discovered in that month.)


  • Examples:
  • Ceres (1)
  • Apollo (2101)
  • Some asteroids however, are named according to their orbits:
  • Orbits within the earth’s orbit are still usually named after characters for Greek Mythology
  • Orbits smaller than that of the earth after Egyptian mythology


  • Overview: the discoverer of a particular object has the privilege of suggesting a name to a committee that judges its suitability.
  • Specifically:
  • The discoverer of the numbered object is defined to be the same as the discoverer of the principal designation. This discoverer is accorded the privilege of suggesting a name for his/her discovery. The discoverer has the privilege for a period of ten years following the numbering of the object.
  • The discoverer writes a short citation explaining the reasons for assigning the name.


  • Names are judged by the fifteen-person Committee for Small-Body Nomenclature (formerly the Small Bodies Names Committee) of the International Astronomical Union, comprised of professional astronomers (with research interests connected with minor planets and/or comets) from around the world.
  • Stipulations:
  • Proposed names should be:
  • 16 characters or less in length (including any spaces or punctuation)
  • preferably one word
  • pronounceable (in some language)
  • non-offensive
  • not too similar to an existing name of a minor planet or natural planetary satellite


  • Comets are first given the number of the year of observation
  • Next is the upper-case code letter identifying the halfmonth of observation during that year using the same procedure as minor planets.
  • Then comes another consecutive numeral to indicate the order of discovery announcement during that halfmonth example, the third comet reported as discovered during the second half of February 1995 would be designated 1995 D3.


  • To distinguish between types of comets a prefix is added to the front of the name
  • Prefixes include:
  • A/ would precede a comet designation that actually refers to a minor planet (or asteroid)
  • P / for a periodic comet (defined to have a revolution period of less than 200 years or confirmed observations at more than one perihelion passage)
  • C/ for a comet that is not periodic (in this sense)
  • X/ for a comet for which a meaningful orbit can not be computed
  • D/ for a periodic comet that no longer exists or is deemed to have disappeared
  • If a comet is observed to return (or have its periodicity established by observation through aphelion or from identifications), the P/ (or D/) shall be preceded by an official sequential number (e.g., 1P/1682 Q1 = Halley), the list to be maintained by the Minor Planet Center and published in the Minor Planet Circulars. Subsequent recoveries shall be acknowledged with further designations only when the predictions are particularly uncertain.


  • Stars are grouped together in constellations.
  • Johann Bayer, in his Uranometria star catalog of 1603, started to classify stars within constellations using Greek letters.
  • The letters were used to order the stars within constellations based on their brightness with the brightest called Alpha.
  • Example: the brightest star in Cygnus (the Swan) is Alpha Cygni (note the use of the genitive of the Latin constellation name) which is also called Deneb


  • This naming system is only approximate, however, because of misestimates and other irregularities.
  • Example: the brightest star in Gemini (the Twins) is Beta Geminorum (Pollux) while Alpha Geminorum (Castor) is only the second brightest star of the constellation.
  • Since the Greek alphabet only has 24 letters and many constellations have many more stars, Johann Bayer started using lower case letters from “a” to “z”, for the stars numbered 25 to 50, and then upper case letters from “A” to “Z”, for stars 51 to 76.
  • This is used when the naming is restricted to those stars visible to the naked eye.


  • Please, Information. "How the Planets and Satellites got their names". Fact Monster. September 12, 2008 <>. Last modified 2007.
  • University Corporation for Atomspheric Research, "Discover Mercury". September 13, 2008 <>. Last modified 1997
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