Q:

Who named the planets?

A:

Quick Answer

Various groups and people named the planets. The Romans named the five planets that are visible to the unaided eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The names are based on the planets' appearances and movements. The Roman names were adopted by European languages and cultures, and they eventually became standard.

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Full Answer

Uranus and Neptune were discovered before there was an established method for naming plants. They were called by several names until one eventually became standard. For example, William Herschel discovered Uranus and wanted to name it after King George II, but Johann Bode suggested the name Uranus, to match the naming conventions of the previous planets. It wasn't until 1850 that Uranus was commonly used as the name.

No one person named Neptune; rather, the two astronomers who discovered it accepted the name after it was proposed to them. Since then, the name Neptune has become the standard name.

Clyde Tombaugh discovered planet Pluto in 1930; a child from Oxford, England suggested the name. Astronomers recommended the name to the observatory staff.

Today, planets and all other celestial objects are named by the International Astronomical Union. When scientists discover new planetary objects or features, they may suggest names to the IAU. The IAU either accepts the proposed name or suggests a different one. Because experts consider the finding of new planets unlikely, the group concentrates on naming moons, planetary features and comets.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How many planets are there?

    A:

    As of 2014, there are eight planets in Earth's solar system. In order by distance to the sun, the planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto was considered to be a ninth planet until 2006, when it was demoted to a dwarf planet.

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  • Q:

    Will all nine planets ever align?

    A:

    It is not possible for all nine planets to align perfectly because the axes around which they rotate tilt at different angles. The planets do end up within 90 degrees of each other about once every 200 years.

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  • Q:

    Why do planets shine?

    A:

    Planets shine because they reflect sunlight. Unlike stars, planets do not produce their own natural light. Their close proximity to Earth allows them to reflect enough sunlight to make many of them visible in the night sky.

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  • Q:

    Which planets have no moons?

    A:

    In this solar system, Mercury and Venus have no moons. Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system and only slightly larger than Earth's moon. It is the closest planet to the Sun. Venus is the second closest planet to the Sun and is slightly smaller than Earth.

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