(Second of Two Parts) A question to the Wordorigins.org discussion forum a week or so ago asked about the origins of the names of the planets. The “official” names of objects in the solar system are assigned by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a global association of astronomers. The IAU follows several conventions in naming planets and moons, the main
ones being that planets are given names of Roman mythological beings and moons are given Greek mythological names associated with the Greek equivalent of the Roman god. Many of these names did not originate with the IAU, but have borne the names of these deities dating back into antiquity. There are exceptions to the IAU naming conventions. Shakespearean names are assigned to moons of Uranus and the occasional Norse or Inuit mythological name appears here and there.
Here is the second half of our examination of the names of the planets and moons.
Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest, is named after the king of the Titans, the father of Jupiter. Saturn’s Greek counterpart is Cronos. English use of Saturn as the planetary name dates back to Old English. The adjective is Saturnian, 1557.