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Dear Science: How did the planets get their names?

washingtonpost.com

Where the names of the planets came from

Sumerian astronomers named the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn after their gods. Ancient China named planets after things of nature, like water, fire, or wood. The English names for planets came from the Romans, who named them after their gods and goddesses.

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These days, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has more creative rules for naming new planets.

Broadly, planetary names mirror the identity of the planet: The features of Venus are named after women. The parts of the Martian moon Deimos get their names from authors who wrote about M...

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  • It's very uncommon to name a celestial body after people. Only prominent scientists who have passed away are given that honour.
  • Stars in named constellations and visible to the naked eye are given a letter of the Greek alphabet according to their position in ...

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