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:

    What are the names of the planets?

    A:

    The names of the inner, or terrestrial, planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The outer planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto was once designated a planet but has now been demoted to a dwarf planet.

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  • Q:

    What is a rhyme to remember the planets?

    A:

    One rhyme to remember the planets is "Amazing Mercury is closest to the Sun, Hot, hot Venus is the second one, Earth comes third; it’s not too hot, Freezing Mars awaits an astronaut, Jupiter is bigger than all the rest, Sixth comes Saturn, its rings look best, Uranus and Neptune are big gas balls, Tiny Pluto is the last planet of all." As well as using rhymes to remember the order of the planets, there are also a good selection of mnemonics available.

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  • Q:

    When were the planets discovered?

    A:

    Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have been known since prehistory. According to NASA, only two non-dwarf planets in the solar system have official discoverers and dates of discovery. These are Uranus and Neptune. Other worlds, such as moons and dwarf planets, were also discovered after the invention of telescopes.

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  • Q:

    What is the order of the planets?

    A:

    Beginning with the planet closest to the Sun and moving outward, the order of the planets is Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Before its reclassification as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, Pluto was considered the ninth and most distant planet.

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